The ongoing deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea is a self-defense measure aimed solely at North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, a senior foreign ministry official here said Wednesday.
South Korea and the U.S. recently started the process of installing a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. They said that it is aimed at better coping with the North's missile threats, but China has voiced strong objection claiming that the shield equipped with a strong radar could be used against its military.China has been stepping up its retaliation against South Korea mostly in business, culture and tourism sectors. Beijing's ban on sale of tour packages to South Korea that went into effect on Wednesday is seen as the latest in a string of retaliatory action.
"Deploying THAAD is a measure taken to cope with the North's nuclear and missile threats," Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Chong-ghee told lawmakers during a parliamentary committee meeting on foreign affairs. "We will respond to China with dignity on this self-defense decision."
With regard to possible countermeasures, Ahn said that the ongoing retaliation, including the ban on trip to Korea, could be in violation of the World Trade Organization treaties in the service sector if the government's involvement is proven.
He, however, admitted that circumstantial evidence only is not enough to prove the illegality at a time when the Chinese government is denying any involvement.
The vice minister said that the government is still making it clear to Beijing that South Korea is in strong need of THAAD to guard itself against outside threats and that there is no need for it if the North gives up its nuclear program. (Yonhap)