U.S. mulls PAC, THAAD missile defense in Korea
WASHINGTON, (Yonhap) -- The Pentagon is leaving open the possibility of deploying high-profile missile defense systems to Korea.
In a report commissioned by the Pentagon and submitted to Congress in July, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think tank in Washington, recommended the U.S. consider placing Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) assets in South Korea.
U.S. officials said the CSIS report talks about "possibly" adding the systems to South Korea, where around 28,000 American troops are stationed.
"The report is an independent assessment and suggests some force posture investments or enhancements beyond the Defense Department's current plans," a Pentagon official told Yonhap News Agency on the customary condition of anonymity.
The official, however, said, "We will evaluate these possible enhancements for their strategic and operational value, as well as their feasibility and affordability."
The possibility, whether it's high or not, has drawn keen attention after a press report that the U.S. is planning to bolster its missile defense shield in Northeast Asia.
The U.S. is moving to deploy a new X-Band radar array in Japan that could be used in conjunction with land-based THAAD launchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. government confirmed the plan amid speculation that it's actually aimed at countering China.
The State Department dismissed that view.
"These are defensive systems," department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. "They don't engage unless missiles have been fired. And in the case of the Asian systems, they are designed to defend against a missile threat from North Korea. They are not directed at China."
Meanwhile, the South Korean government is apparently seeking a low-tier missile defense system to deal with any missile attacks from North Korea.