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Seoul to take the bull by the horns over missile defense issue

Seoul to take the bull by the horns over missile defense issue

Posted March. 19, 2015 07:20,   


The South Korean government plans to take the bull by the horn over growing pressure on the possible deployment of a U.S. advanced missile-defense system on South Korean soil as it did two years ago when Seoul expanded its air defense zone against a similar move by Beijing, sources said Thursday.

The South Korean defense ministry`s recent warning against China`s intervention in the proposed deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system was based on Seoul`s such a position, the sources said. South Korea and the United States are expected to discuss the THAAD deployment issue at their high-level defense talks next month.

According to a high-ranking source in the South Korean government, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, the foreign and defense ministries recently concluded that the THAAD issue is a matter of grave importance, which is directly related with national security and sovereignty, and that Seoul should not be swayed by pressures from neighboring countries. Under the conclusion, Seoul has decided to handle the THAAD issue as a sovereign state the way it declared an expansion of South Korea`s air defense zone in late 2013, the source said. Kim Kwan-jin, head of the National Security Office at Cheong Wa Dae, is said to have reported the position to President Park Geun-hye.

When China unilaterally declared its air defense zone that violated South Korean waters in November 2013, South Korea countered the move by expanding Seoul`s air defense zone.

Another source at the South Korean government said, "While we will play a leading role in making decisions on the THAAD issue, we will also make efforts to explain China and other neighboring countries on the necessity in order to minimize the diplomatic ripple effects."

Separately, the South Korean government is increasingly positive about joining a new regional bank led by China meant to fund infrastructure projects in Asia.

Major European economies such as Britain, France and Germany have decided to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), making it less likely for China to arbitrarily run the bank, assessed the Ministry of Planning and Finances of South Korea. With reduced concerns over the AIIB`s governance structure raised by the United States, the possibility of Seoul`s joining of the bank has increased.