The United States will continue to ship to South Korea the remaining elements of a THAAD missile defense battery regardless of the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, the Department of Defense said Friday.
"Leaders change over time, that's not new," Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters after South Korea's Constitutional Court upheld Park's impeachment and removed her from office, according to Reuters.
"We made an agreement with the Republic of Korea that this was a capability that they needed ... This is something that is needed militarily. That agreement was reached and we remain committed to delivering on it," he said.
Park's ouster came just days after the U.S. brought into South Korea the first elements of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery that the two countries agreed to host in the country to defend better against North Korean missile threats.
Her exit could raise doubts about her decision to host THAAD amid intensifying pressure from China, which has strongly railed against the deployment, claiming the system, especially its powerful radar, can be used against the country.
But the widespread view is that the leadership change won't affect the deployment.
"It is probably that a progressive candidate will win the presidency, raising the potential for strains in the South Korean-U.S. relationship," said Bruce Klingner, a Korea expert at the Heritage Foundation.
But it is "unlikely that any candidate will reverse the THAAD decision since a majority of South Koreans favor the deployment," he said.(Yonhap)