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North Korea Launches Missiles, South Korea Delays THAAD

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (right) appears with former presidential security adviser Kim Kwan-jin (center) and defense minister Han Min Goo (right). Moon called on North Korea to stop "provocations" with its missile and nuclear program. He also moved to delay deployment of the American anti-missile system known as THAAD.
North Korea Launches Missiles after South Korean Decision on Anti-Missile System
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South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called on North Korea to stop testing missiles after the North’s latest missile launch.

Moon urged North Korea to immediately halt what he called “its nuclear and missile provocations.”

Early Thursday, North Korea launched missiles from an area near Wonsan, a city on its eastern coast. They traveled about 200 kilometers to the east and landed in the sea.

The office of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said they appeared to be short-range cruise missiles.

A spokesman for the office said the launch seemed to be a test designed to answer recent United States naval exercises in the region.

A screen shows a news program reporting about North Korea's missile firing from Wonsan, June 8, 2017.
A screen shows a news program reporting about North Korea's missile firing from Wonsan, June 8, 2017.

However, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff noted that the test did not violate United Nations Security Council restrictions because the missiles did not travel high enough. Those restrictions ban high-altitude missile and nuclear weapons development.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said there was no reason for Council members to consider the latest test.

“The government has dealt with actions of North Korea based on responses of the international community. However, we don’t think this (missile launch) is something we need to protest against,” he said.

The secretary said the missiles did not reach Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which extends about 370 kilometers from the Japanese coast.

Additional THAAD deployment delayed

The launches took place one day after the administration of President Moon Jae-in suspended additional deployment of an American anti-missile system.

A presidential aide said an environmental study was required by law before additional deployment could take place. The study could take two years.

A THAAD rocket launcher already deployed in South Korea.
A THAAD rocket launcher already deployed in South Korea.

Two rocket launchers have already been deployed to South Korea as part of the THAAD anti-missile system. The study delays the deployment of an additional four launchers.

The postponement comes after reports that the defense ministry failed to inform Moon of the additional deployments. He suspended a deputy defense minister for his part in bypassing the president’s office.

On Thursday, the Defense Ministry did not comment on the THAAD issue because of an investigation into the deployment’s approval.

During the South Korean election campaign, Moon called for a detailed study of the THAAD anti-missile system agreement with the United States. The deployment of the system went forward as then-President Park Geun-hye faced removal from office over accusations of corruption.

China has opposed the THAAD missile deployment on the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese government considers it a threat. The state-operated Global Times said Wednesday that the delay in the additional deployment could ease tensions between China and South Korea.

Chinese officials reportedly have cancelled tourist trips to South Korea and taken other economic measures against the South to show their displeasure.

Bruce Bennett is a defense expert with the RAND Corporation research group. He told VOA that the latest missile launch might show new capabilities for North Korea’s missile program. However, he said they presented little threat to U.S. forces in East Asia.

Currently, the U.S. military has deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups to the area. The strike groups include the carriers USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Brian Padden reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. His story includes material from VOA’s Chris Hannas, Kenneth Schwartz and Victor Beattie. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

provocations – n. something done to cause an intense or angry reaction

region – n. a part of a country or the world separated in some way from others

exclusiveadj. not shared; available to only a few people

altitude – n. height; the highest point of something

bypass – v. to go around or avoid something

altitude – n. height above the earth’s surface

capability – n. the ability to do something

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