20:48 GMT +325 April 2019
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    Lockheed Martin shows the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD missile being launched from a mobile launcher at Kauai's Pacific Missile Range Facility

    US THAAD Installation in South Korea Poses Security Threat to Russia?

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    Moscow has expressed its concerns regarding the THAAD deployment in South Korea, pointing to the fact the American anti-ballistic defense system poses a substantial threat to Russia's security.

    Moscow considers the possible deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea as a significant security threat to Russia and the wider region, according to Alexander Timonin, Russia's Ambassador to South Korea.

    The Russian Ambassador to South Korea expressed his deep concerns regarding the deployment of the American THAAD anti-ballistic missile system on the Korean Peninsula.

    "What concerns us is that a US missile defense system could be placed in areas not far from Russia, adding to worries over THAAD’s radar system or technology,"

    Although Washington has repeatedly claimed that the proposed defense system is aimed at dealing with a growing missile threat from North Korea, Russia's experts point to the fact THAAD’s working range extends beyond the Korean Peninsula.

    A South Korean Buddhist monk speaks during a rally wishing for a quick recovery of injured U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea
    © AP Photo / Lee Jin-man
    "Of course it has multi-purpose tasks. One of the tasks, of course, is North Korea,” “But, additionally, the capability of this system allows this equipment to intercept missiles, Russian… missiles for example. So, yes, unfortunately, there are grounds for concern vis-a-vis [the] security situation of Russia… and the Chinese," Alexander Vorontsov, a Moscow-based Korea expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences said in an interview with the Diplomat.

    China has also strongly opposed the US missile defense system installation in the South Asian region, citing security concerns. Seoul is currently walking a tightrope, trying to maintain good relations with both Beijing and Washington.

    However, South Korea's decision to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), despite Washington's vocal displeasure has added fuel to the fire. On the other hand, the possible deployment of the THAAD system still sparks controversy among Eurasian geopolitical players.

    While President Park Geun-hye remains silent about the THAAD issue and avoids addressing it directly, in accordance with Seoul's policy of "strategic ambiguity," some of South Korea's senior officials, particularly Park Geun-hye's party members, have openly praised the idea of the defense system deployment.

    Related:

    Pentagon Chief to Downplay THAAD Missile Deployment During Seoul Visit
    South Korea Sees Benefits Juggling Relations With China and US
    US Missile Defense Systems in S Korea Could Spark Asian Arms Race - Moscow
    Tags:
    South Korea, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Park Geun-hye, Alexander Timonin, United States, Russia
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