China Warns of East Asia Arms Race After US Deploys THAAD Missile Defense in S Korea — N Korea Tests + Ban on Malaysian Exits Set Region On Edge

Beijing denounced the US decision to use THAAD technology and vowed to “take the necessary steps to safeguard our own security interests.” Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, also rebuked North Korea, saying it must “face the reality that it can neither thwart Washington and Seoul nor consolidate its security in a breeze with its immature nuclear technology.” Top, Kim Jong-un, the man motivating all the nervousness. Below, South Korean soldiers guarding on Tuesday the entrance to a golf course where the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system will be deployed in Seongju, ROK.

The developments come as South Korea is consumed by turmoil over the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye,

whose administration agreed to the THAAD deployment.

But with the president facing possible removal from office over a corruption scandal, the fate of the system has been in doubt.

Its accelerated deployment could make it harder, if not impossible, for her successor to head off its installation.

Moon Jae-in, an opposition leader who is the front-runner in the race to replace President Park,

acknowledged that it would now be difficult to overturn South Korea’s agreement to deploy the system.

But he has insisted that the next South Korean government should have the final say on the matter,

saying that Ms. Park’s government never allowed a full debate on it.

Under its deal with Washington, South Korea is providing the land for the missile system and will build the base,

but the United States will pay for the system, to be built by Lockheed Martin, as well as its operational costs.

A C-17 cargo plane landed at the United States military’s Osan Air Base, about 40 miles south of Seoul, on Monday evening, carrying two trucks, each mounted with a THAAD launchpad.

More equipment and personnel will start arriving in the coming weeks, South Korean military officials said.

The South Korean Defense Ministry declined to specify when the system would be operational.

But the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that

the deployment was likely to be completed in one or two months, with the system ready for use by April.

Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said that

policy makers in China had failed to grasp how Washington and its allies regarded North Korea’s nuclear program

as getting closer to a dangerous threshold of being able to place a warhead

on an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit American cities.

“That’s a game-changer,” said Haenle, who was director for China on the National Security Council under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

China has long opposed American missile defenses, in part because of fears that

they might embolden American decision-makers to consider a first strike to destroy China’s relatively small nuclear arsenal.

Chinese strategists warn the US might consider such an attack

if it was confident a defense system could intercept Chinese weapons that escaped destruction.

China is believed to have already embarked on a program to modernize its arsenal and develop new weapons designed to avoid missile defenses,

and analysts said the deployment of THAAD could prompt it to accelerate those efforts.

Source: China Warns of Arms Race After U.S. Deploys Missile Defense in South Korea – The New York Times