09 May 2017

News Report: 'Nukes in Discussion' as Tensions on Korean Peninsula 'Reach a New Level'

THAAD Interceptor Missile test launch (File Photo)
Earlier this week, United States Forces Korea Col. Rob Manning said that the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea is currently operational and ready to defend Seoul if Pyongyang launches an attack.

"US Forces Korea confirms the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend the Republic of the Korea," Manning told Sputnik on Monday.

The agreement on deploying the THAAD system was reached between the US and South Korea in July 2016, and the first components of the system started to arrive in the country in early March. The agreement implies that Seoul provides land for the system while Washington pays for its installation and maintenance.

Seoul is expecting to fully station the system as early as June 2017, media reported, citing the South Korean Defense Ministry.

AN/TPY-2 radar for THAAD
According to media reports, the THAAD battery deployed to South Korea will include from four to nine full-track portable launchers carrying eight intercepting missiles each. The system will also be equipped with the TPY-2 TM radar. According to reports, the interceptors will have an operational range of up to 200 kilometers.

According to Russian political analyst Sergei Zhuravskiy, the US is playing the leading role in the THAAD deployment to South Korea and the entire situation in the region is developing in accordance with a scenario prepared decades ago.

"I cannot rule out that Washington told Seoul that those systems should be deployed to the region. South Korea is scared. For 60 years, it has been under the North Korean 'threat' inflated by its allies. So, the developments on the peninsula comply with the context of the last several decades," Zhuravskiy told Radio Sputnik.

According to him, the current situation is developing according to the scenario predetermined by the division between the two Koreas.

"But now everything has reached a new level. While previously it was about artillery systems, now nuclear weapons and missiles are in discussion," the expert concluded.

The situation near the Korean Peninsula has escalated recently, following several missile and nuclear tests carried out by Pyongyang. The international community, including regional countries, has repeatedly condemned North Korea's military activities. Washington and Pyongyang have traded increasingly strident military threats with each other recently, resulting in calls from US regional allies and China asking for both sides to calm down.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.