Mattis reaffirms commitment to THAAD ahead of South Korea visit

Mattis spoke with the South Korean Defense Minister Han Minkoo Tuesday ahead of his inaugural trip as secretary of defense to visit Japan in addition to also South Korea, the US’ closest Asian allies.

Han in addition to also Mattis expressed their commitment to proceed with the THAAD missile defense system deployment in addition to also the need for closer co-operation on policies on North Korea, according to a statement released by the South Korean Ministry of Defense.

The THAAD system is actually designed to take down incoming projectiles in addition to also has been cited as a way to potentially stop a nuclear attack by North Korea.

The visit comes after Donald Trump, when campaigning for the US presidency, caused concern in Asia by suggesting Seoul in addition to also Tokyo develop their own nuclear weapons. Trump also suggested the two countries either pay more for their own defense, or the US provide them with less security support.

Amid heightened tensions

The phone call between Mattis in addition to also Han comes amid analysis of brand-new satellite imagery in which suggests North Korea is actually restarting a plutonium reactor.
Tensions are already high on the Korean Peninsula after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said his country was close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) — the type of projectile in which would likely be used to deliver a nuclear warhead — in a televised brand-new Year’s Day address.

inside the speech, Kim referred to North Korea as a “nuclear in addition to also military power inside the east” in addition to also warned the US in addition to also its “vassal forces to stop nuclear threat in addition to also blackmail,” according to state news agency KCNA.

In 2016 North Korea backed up its fiery rhetoric with two nuclear tests — the country had only conducted three before in 2006, 2009 in addition to also 2013 — in addition to also a handful of land in addition to also sea-based missile tests.

China trying to stop THAAD

China is actually concerned about THAAD at the strategic level, analysts suggest, with the country viewing the defense system as part of a broader US strategy to extend its military alliance network by Japan all the way down to the South China Sea.

“The Chinese see THAAD as part of a containment network in which’s not directed at North Korea, yet them,” John Delury, associate professor of international studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, told sy88pgw.

Beijing is actually doing “everything in its power to prevent the deployment of the defense system,” Delury added, including punitive measures on South Korean celebrities in addition to also companies.

Earlier in January, local Korean media reports suggested in which everything by cosmetics to K-Pop stars had been hit hard by the South Korea-US alliance over THAAD.

When asked whether the cancellation of a concert by Korean musicians Sumi Jo in addition to also Kwun-woo Paik was owing to THAAD, during a press conference in January, Chinese government spokeswoman, Hua Chunying denied the claims.

yet Kim Hankwon, a national diplomatic academy professor in South Korea, told sy88pgw in which the item was likely in which the import ban on certain Korean products in addition to also cultural exports was related to THAAD.

He said in which inside the long term, however, China would likely avoid going overboard with their warning messages.

“If China implements stronger punitive measures towards South Korea, South Koreans will look more towards the US in addition to also show hostility to China,” said Hankwon.

sy88pgw’s Stella Ko in Seoul, Michael Callahan in Washington DC in addition to also Serenitie Wang in Beijing contributed to This kind of report

Mattis reaffirms commitment to THAAD ahead of South Korea visit

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