THAAD response to North Korea missiles at center of debate

SEOUL, A debate is escalating over command of THAAD, the U.S. anti-missile defense system, and whether the United States or South Korea is to have the final say on a response in the case of a North Korea attack.


South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo told parliamentarians Tuesday in a scenario of a North Korean ballistic missile attack, Seoul has four to eight minutes to respond, local newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun reported.

“A very sophisticated operation management procedure has been developed,” Han said.

Han’s response, however, evaded a question from Justice Party spokesman Kim Jong-dae, who had asked Han which military would issue the command to intercept an incoming missile, Yonhap reported.

Han later added South Korea holds “operational control” during peacetime and U.S. Forces Korea plays a role in support of that strategy.

But Han did not say whether a fired missile coming from North Korea qualifies as an action of peacetime or wartime.

“The operation plan is centered on the Patriot [air and missile defense] system,” Han said, but THAAD would be activated as an extension of the defense measures.

The minister also said THAAD would be under the operational control of the USFK Seventh Air Force and the South Korean air force.

Han also denied local press reports that claimed the government plans to deploy THAAD in Chilgok, North Gyeongsang Province, where U.S. army base Camp Carroll is located.

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