North Korea vowed Monday to make a “physical response” after the U.S. and South Korea agreed to deploy the THAAD missile defense system to cope with Pyongyang’s constant threats.
The U.S. and South Korea said Friday that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system will be used to counter North Korea growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities that pose a big threat to the region.
"There will be physical response measures from us as soon as the location and time that the invasionary tool for U.S. world supremacy, THAAD, will be brought into South Korea are confirmed," the North Korean military said in a statement.
The deployment decision for THAAD was announced hours after North Korea angrily reacted to new U.S. sanctions on leader Kim Jong Un and other top officials for human rights abuses, with Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry saying such measures were tantamount to declaring war.
Despite outcry from China, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the advanced system wasn’t intended to target any other country except the North.
"I'm certain the international community knows full well that we have no intention whatsoever to target any other country or threaten them," Park said in a meeting with other South Korea officials.
China's Foreign Ministry swiftly criticized the move Friday. "China expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute objection to this," the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
"Refrain from taking actions that complicate the region's situation and do not do things that harm China's strategic security interests," the statement said.
China said the missile defense system's deployment would not help bring about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and isn't conducive to peace in the region. The ministry said the move would "seriously damage" the security interests and strategic balance of the region.
A South Korean Defense Ministry official told Reuters that the location for deployment has yet to be determined, but could come “within weeks.” THAAD could be fully operational by 2017.
The two countries insisted last week that the defense system is solely focused on North Korean threats.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.