South Korea announced today (Wednesday, April 26) that key parts of a US missile defence system had been installed — a day after North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills.
The South’s announcement about the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, also comes as the USS Carl Vinson Strike Group continues to close in on the peninsular.
North Korea’s largest-ever artillery drills on Tuesday were timed to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the founding of its People’s Army.
On the same day, a US guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea in readiness for a joint exercise with South Korea that will also involve the USS Carl Vinson strike group. Recently, we reported how Pyongyang had released a propaganda video depicting the destruction of the aircraft carrier.
The plan to implement THAAD in South Korea have also angered China, the country that the Trump administration hopes to work with to rid the North of nuclear weapons.
China, which has also expressed concern about Pyongyang’s weapons programmes, and Russia see the system’s powerful radars as a threat to their own defence systems.
South Korea said in a statement today that unspecified parts of the system had already been installed. According to Yonhap news agency, the parts include two or three launchers, intercept missiles and a radar.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s official media reported today that Kim Jong Un observed the live-fire exercises, which involved more than 300 large-calibre artillery pieces and submarine torpedo attacks on mock enemy warships.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spoke to President Trump on Monday, is urging restraint from both Pyongyang and Washington.
In Washington, top Trump administration officials are due to brief the entire US Senate today.
A recent increase in North Korean weapons testing has stoked fears that the country could develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland.
North Korea routinely accuses the US of readying for an invasion, and threatens pre-emptive strikes to stop it. An unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman described the USA’s policy to increase pressure on Pyongyang as “little short of lighting the fuse of total war”.