South Korea on Friday rejected US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that it should pay for a $1 billion missile defence system to guard against threats from the North Korea.
The first parts of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system have already been delivered to a former golf course in the South — infuriating China — at a time of heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.
Top US officials have said THAAD will be operational “within days”. “I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It’s a billion-dollar system,” Trump was quoted by Reuters. “It’s phenomenal, shoots missiles right out of the sky.”
The two countries have been in a security alliance since the 1950-53 Korean war, and more than 28,000 US troops are stationed in the South. The row comes with tensions high on the Korean peninsula following a series of missile launches by the North and warnings from the Trump administration that military action was an “option on the table.”
The Trump administration said it would seek stronger sanctions against Pyongyang and held open the possibility of negotiations. Meanwhile, US Pacific Command chief, Admiral Harry Harris, says the military was set to bring leader Kim Jong-Un “to his senses, not to his knees.”