Tuesday, March 17, 2015

U.S. defends THAAD system, dismisses China's woes

Excerpt:

   "Well, I find it curious that a third country would presume to make strong representations about a security system that has not been put in place and that is still a matter of theory," Russel told a group of reporters in Seoul after meeting with his South Korean counterpart Lee Kyung-soo.

   "Our military authorities have a responsibility to consider systems" that can protect U.S. and Korean citizens from Pyongyang's missile threat.

"Our military authorities" should imply the ROK and US military authorities, thus the ROK has a responsibility not only to consider systems but also to purchase and deploy systems  to protect its citizens from the north Korean missile threat and not depend solely on the US for missile defense.  In fact the ROK, as a responsible government,  should deploy its own systems and join the integrated missile defense network to properly protects its citizens.

The bottomline in regards to Chinese opposition is that the ROK/US military alliance has the right of self defense and if the Chinese do not like the Alliance deploying defenses to deter and counter the  north Korean threat they would be better served to help eliminate the threat from the north.  No nation should ever succumb to external pressure that would violate one of the fundamental functions of a government: to provide for the common defense of its people.  That is exactly what China is asking the ROK to do and by extension the US.
   A ranking U.S. diplomat said Tuesday the U.S. has a "responsibility" to consider a system that can deter North Korea's missile threats, dismissing China's concerns about a possible deployment of an advanced U.S. missile-defense system in South Korea.

   The remarks by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel came as China has explicitly voiced concerns about Washington's possible move to deploy a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on Korean soil, home to about 28,500 American troops.

   Russel said that Washington and Seoul face a "significant threat" from North Korea's growing ballistic missile program, raising the necessity of a security system, such as THAAD, to protect them from Pyongyang.

   "Well, I find it curious that a third country would presume to make strong representations about a security system that has not been put in place and that is still a matter of theory," Russel told a group of reporters in Seoul after meeting with his South Korean counterpart Lee Kyung-soo.

   "Our military authorities have a responsibility to consider systems" that can protect U.S. and Korean citizens from Pyongyang's missile threat.




   The meeting came amid a mounting Washington-Beijing row over the THAAD battery deployment and a China-led Asian development bank.

   South Korea is struggling to walk a diplomatic tightrope between the U.S., Seoul's key ally, and China, Seoul's largest trading partner, over the sensitive security issue.

   Seoul and Washington have said there have been neither consultations nor a decision related to the THAAD deployment.

   But China has raised opposition to Washington's possible move, apparently out of concerns that THAAD may be aimed at containing a rising China.

   Russel's visit to Seoul coincided with a trip by China's assistant foreign minister, Liu Jianchao, who repeated China's worries over THAAD a day earlier.

   "I think that it is for the Republic of Korea to decide what measures it will take in its own alliance defense and when," Russel said, referring to South Korea by its official name.

   South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said Tuesday that Seoul will take the lead in deciding on the THAAD deployment and not be swayed by outside influences.

   "Seoul plans to decide on the security issue in a way to maximize its national interest," Yun told reporters.

   Touching on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Russel stressed that multilateral development banks should have high standards of good governance and transparency.

   China launched the AIIB late last year with 20 other nations as a counterbalance to the Asian Development Bank, led by the U.S. and Japan. The AIIB has not begun operations yet as details are still being worked out. Washington apparently has pressed its key ally Seoul to be cautious about joining the regional bank.

   Seoul plans to decide whether to join the AIIB soon as China has said the deadline to become a founding member of the bank is the end of March. Britain announced its plan last week to join the bank, becoming the first Western country to do so.

   The U.S. has welcomed investment in infrastructure, but China should present "unmistakable evidence" that the AIIB can start with "the high watermark" in terms of governance like other multilateral development banks, Russel said.

   Later in a regular press briefing, Seoul's foreign ministry said no decision was made on whether to join the China-led bank, although the country is currently discussing the issue with the U.S.

   "The government is currently in consultation with the U.S. side, but (we) have not decided our stance yet," foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kawng-il said. "Because participation in the AIIB would incur considerable financial burden, our financial authorities are reviewing whether to join seriously and comprehensively."

   Russel arrived in Seoul Monday for a two-day visit as part of senior-level official exchanges between Seoul and Washington following a knife-wielding attack on U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Mark Lippert.

   At the meeting, Russel said he extended the U.S. government's appreciation to South Korea for "tremendous warmth and outpouring of sympathy and supports" related to the recent attack on Lippert.

   "(This) has given a vivid demonstration of the strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance," Russel said.

   By Kim Soo-yeon and Park Boram
   SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap)
   sooyeon@yna.co.kr
   pbr@yna.co.kr
(END)

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