National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster said Sunday that the U.S. will indeed pay for the roughly $1 billion THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, amid neighboring North Korea’s repeated ballistic test launches.
"What I told our South Korean counterpart is until any renegotiation, that the deals in place, we’ll adhere to our word," McMaster told “Fox News Sunday.”
He spoke days after President Trump said South Korea should pay for the anti-missile system and hours after Seoul said that McMaster had assured its chief national security officer, Kim Kwan-jin, about the deal.
“The last thing I would ever do is contradict the president of the United States,” McMaster also told Fox News. “And that’s not what it was. What the president has asked us to do, is to look across all of our alliances and to have appropriate burden sharing-responsibility sharing. We’re looking at that with our great ally South Korea, we’re looking at that with NATO.”
Trump said Thursday that he wanted Seoul to pay for the THAAD deployment, which immediately raised questions about the relationship between the two nations.
South Korea said it was Washington’s cost to bear under the bilateral agreement.
McMaster has said that recent statements by Trump were made in a general context, in line with the U.S. public expectations on defense cost burden-sharing with allies," Seoul said in a statement.
The anti-missile system is set to be operational soon. Major elements of the system were being moved last week into Seonjgu, in the southern part of South Korea.
The United States and South Korea contend that the battery is only to guard against North Korean missiles, despite concerns expressed in China.
North Korea attempted to launch another ballistic missile early Saturday, but it appeared to have failed. The test drew international condemnation.
This story is based in part on wire service reports.