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NUKEWARS
Trump would be 'honored' to meet N.Korea's Kim, if conditions right
By Andrew BEATTY
Washington (AFP) May 1, 2017


THAAD missile defense system now operational in S.Korea
Washington (AFP) May 1, 2017 - A controversial missile defense system whose deployment has angered China is now operational in South Korea, a US defense official said Monday.

Washington and Seoul agreed to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery deployment in July in the wake of a string of North Korean missile tests.

"It has reached initial intercept capability," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

This initial capability will be augmented later this year as other components arrive, officials said.

THAAD's deployment in South Korea has infuriated China, which fears it will weaken its own ballistic missile capabilities and says it upsets the regional security balance.

The THAAD system, which is being installed on a former golf course in the southern county of Seongju, is designed to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.

Beijing has imposed a host of measures seen as economic retaliation against the South for the THAAD deployment, including a ban on tour groups.

Retail conglomerate Lotte, which previously owned the golf course, has also been targeted, with 85 of its 99 stores in China shut down, while South Korea's biggest automaker Hyundai Motor has said its Chinese sales have fallen sharply.

The THAAD deployment comes as tension soars on the Korean peninsula following a series of missile launches by the North and warnings from the administration of US President Donald Trump that military action is an "option on the table."

US President Donald Trump on Monday said he would not rule out meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, under the right conditions, as Pyongyang threatens to carry out a sixth nuclear test.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been running high for weeks, with signs the North might be preparing a long-range missile launch or a new nuclear test -- prompting tough talk from Washington, which has refused to rule out a military strike in response.

But the Trump administration is also spearheading a renewed diplomatic push to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

Trump has so far placed his biggest bet on getting China to use its leverage to pressure Pyongyang to change its behavior -- a strategy that has failed to produce results in the past.

The Republican president has also said he is ready to act alone in the stand-off, however -- and on Monday signaled that this could involve face-to-face talks with Kim, who has yet to meet a foreign leader since taking power.

"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him I would, absolutely. I would be honored to do it," Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg.

"If it's under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that," Trump said.

In the latest rhetoric to fuel jitters across the region, North Korea warned Monday that it was prepared to carry out a nuclear test "at any time and at any location" set by its leadership.

The regime will continue bolstering its "preemptive nuclear attack" capabilities unless Washington scraps its hostile policies, a spokesman for the North's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency.

"The DPRK's measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership," the spokesman added, apparently referring to a sixth nuclear test and using the North's official name, the Democratic Republic of Korea.

- CIA director in South Korea -

The North has carried out five nuclear tests in the last 11 years and is widely believed to be making progress toward its dream of building a missile capable of delivering a warhead to the continental United States.

It raises the tone of its warnings every spring, when Washington and Seoul carry out joint exercises it condemns as rehearsals for invasion. But this time fears of conflict have been fueled by a cycle of threats from both sides.

The joint drills have just ended, but naval exercises are continuing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) with a US strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

CIA director Mike Pompeo was in South Korea on Monday, the US embassy in Seoul confirmed, following reports of an unannounced visit as tensions mount on the peninsula.

Pompeo's visit coincided with news that the controversial US missile defense system known as THAAD -- whose deployment has angered China -- is now operational in South Korea.

"It has reached initial intercept capability," a US defense official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

- 'A pretty smart cookie' -

Seoul regularly warns that Pyongyang can carry out a test whenever it decides to do so.

Pyongyang's latest attempted show of force was a failed missile test on Saturday that came just hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed the UN Security Council to raise pressure on the North.

Trump on Sunday repeated his determination to resolve the threat posed by North Korea, warning in a CBS interview: "We cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue."

But the US leader also offered some backhanded praise for Kim, saying he had faced a formidable challenge in taking over the country at a reported age of 27 after his father's death in 2011.

"He's dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power," Trump said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie," he said.

NUKEWARS
China 'putting pressure' on North Korea: Trump
Washington (AFP) April 30, 2017
Donald Trump thinks Chinese President Xi Jinping is "putting pressure" on North Korea, the US president said in an interview to air Sunday, as tensions mount over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs. If North Korea carries out a nuclear test "I would not be happy," Trump told the CBS television network's "Face the Nation" program. "And I can tell you also, I don't believe that the p ... read more

Related Links
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com


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