(From AFP| Reuters)
The United States has temporarily deployed an additional Patriot missile battery in South Korea following North Korea’s recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch, US Forces Korea said Saturday.
The move came as the two allies plan to start detailed discussions on bringing in an advanced, high-altitude US missile defence system opposed by China as early as next week.
“This deployment is part of an emergency deployment readiness exercise conducted in response to recent North Korean provocations,” the US Forces Korea said in a press statement, referring to the temporary roll-out of a Patriot missile battery, which was flown from Fort Bliss, Texas this week.
“Exercises like this ensure we are always ready to defend against an attack from North Korea,” said Lieutenant General Thomas Vandal, commander of the US Eighth Army.
The newly deployed Patriot battery is conducting ballistic missile defense training with the Eighth Army’s 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Osan Air Base, some 47 kilometers (30 miles) south of Seoul.
The brigade has its own two Patriot battalions. One Patriot battalion is reportedly composed of four batteries.
Act cautiously, China tells US
The United States needs to proceed with caution on possible deployment of the an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea and not use this as an excuse to affect China’s security, the Chinese foreign minister said.
Speaking to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Munich, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed Beijing’s opposition to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Friday.
Wang “demanded the U.S. side must act cautiously, not use the opportunity to harm China’s security interests and not add a new complicating factor to regional peace and stability”, the ministry said.