02:01 GMT08 August 2020
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    South Korea will shoot down alleged Russian or Chinese missiles targeting the American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile system which will be deployed on South Korean territory in 2017, according to the country's Defense Minister Han Min-goo.

    The South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted the country's Defense Minister Han Min-goo as saying that Seoul plans to shoot down alleged Russian or Chinese missiles targeting the American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system, which is due to be deployed on South Korean soil in 2017.

    The missiles will be intercepted with the help of the THAAD system itself, which is deployed in connection with North Korea's ongoing nuclear tests.

    According to Han Min-goo, despite the threats from China and Russia regarding possible missile strikes, the THAAD system is designed to protect South Korea's security.

    Commenting on the matter, Russian military expert Vladimir Yevseyev told Sputnik that an argument about the validity of placing THAAD in South Korea for security purposes is neither realistic nor suitable.

    County residents chant slogans during a protest against the goverment's decision to deploy a U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense unit in Seongju, South Korea, July 13, 2016
    © REUTERS / Lee Jong-hyun/News1 via REUTERS
    County residents chant slogans during a protest against the goverment's decision to deploy a U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense unit in Seongju, South Korea, July 13, 2016

    "It is absolutely clear that Russia is not going to fire at South Korea. But even if we only hypothetically imagine that it will decide to do so, it remains to be seen whether THAAD will be capable of intercepting Russian missiles", according to him.

    "But the main thing is that THAAD, which will be deployed on South Korean soil, is not designed to protect the South Korean population. The THAAD system is primarily aimed at protecting US military facilities on the Korean Peninsula," he said.

    Earlier this month, South Korean President Park Geun-hye told Sputnik that Seoul is not planning to use THAAD against Russia or other third states and is ready to provide extra clarifications if necessary.

    Anti-war activists hold placards during a rally against talks on deployment of the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, THAAD, outside South Korea's defence ministry in Seoul on March 4, 2016
    © AFP 2020 / JUNG YEON-JE
    Anti-war activists hold placards during a rally against talks on deployment of the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, THAAD, outside South Korea's defence ministry in Seoul on March 4, 2016

    Asked about the reason for Seoul's unexpected about-face and the current bellicose rhetoric, Yevseyev pointed out a whole array of major factors, including the fact that the United States has significant influence on South Korea, as compared to Japan, for example. 

    "Seoul's readiness to deploy the US missile defense shows that it is more and more involved in the implementation of US policy in the Asia-Pacific region. As for Han Min-goo's statement, I don't rule out that it was made under American pressure, which may mean that the US will support South Korea's sanctions against Pyongyang in exchange for its anti-Russian rhetoric," he said.

    Yevseyev also suggested that Han Min-goo's bellicose rhetoric can be explained by what he described as "an active rapprochement between Russia and China which comes amid deteriorating relations between Seoul and Beijing".

    Last but not least is "a very unstable position of President Park Geun-hye, who is now being pressurized by conservative politicians and whose current policy starts to resemble right-wing political moves by the former South Korean President, according to Yevseyev. 

    "In any case, it is safe to say that the South Korean Defense Minister's retaliatory rhetoric is unlikely to improve the current situation on the Korean Peninsula," Yevseyev concluded.

    In early July, the Russian Foreign Ministry protested the decision on THAAD deployment in South Korea, claiming that such a step would have a highly negative impact on global strategic stability.

    Opponents of the missile defense system have reportedly voiced health concerns over the system's powerful radar, as well as the potential danger of being targeted while living in proximity of THAAD.

    Seoul and Washington agreed to install the THAAD system in July. The system is designed to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic range missiles as they are incoming. Its deployment to Seoul has caused concerns in North Korea, as well as China and Russia.

    Related:

    THAAD Systems in S Korea Not Directed Against Russia, Third Countries
    Russia Against US THAAD Deployment in S.Korea, Hopes for Diplomatic Solution
    S Korean Defense Ministry to Consider Alternative Location for US THAAD System
    US Plans to Equip South Korean Warships With THAAD-Style Defense System
    Tags:
    population, strikes, nuclear tests, security, threats, missiles, THAAD, South Korea, China, Russia
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