South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered ‘temporary’ installation of additional launchers on the THAAD missile defense system to boost South Korea’s defense capabilities in the wake of recent missile tests by North Korea.
A THAAD battery is made up of six launchers, but only two have been installed in South Korea pending an environmental impact review.
The United States is ready to deploy the remaining parts of an advanced missile defense system to South Korea, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis was quoted as saying by Yonhap Tuesday.
The decision comes three days after North Korea test-fired a second intercontinental ballistic missile, marking a significant step forward in its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of hitting the continental US.
"We made an alliance decision with the Republic of Korea government last year to deploy THAAD to the Korean Peninsula as a defensive measure," Davis told reporters at the Pentagon. "We have gotten that to an initial missile defense ability just within the past few months."
The US is standing by to bring in additional elements, and talks on how to do that are ongoing, the captain said. "We are certainly ready to bring additional pieces in as quickly as we can," he added.
"A lot of people question the need for THAAD; they question the requirement for us," Davis noted. "But the North Koreans are being far better spokespeople on that than we're capable of. They're making the case for us rather effectively."