Seoul and Washington have agreed to begin talks about deploying the THADD missile defense system in South Korea, a defense official told reporters Sunday.
Yoo Jeh Seung, a senior South Korea Defense Ministry official, told reporters that the talks on THADD are aimed at bolstering South Korea-U.S. defense ties in the face of escalating tension with North Korea. The move is expected to raise tensions with China.
North Korea defied international warnings earlier Sunday and launched a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland. The rocket was fired from North Korea’s west coast and its bath was tracked separately by the U.S., Japan and South Korea.
In response to the launch, diplomats from the United Nations Security Council told Fox News late Saturday that the U.S., Japan and South Korea requested an emergency meeting at 11 a.m. Sunday.
North Korea launched the missile after announcing an eight-day window in which the rocket would be fired. Washington and its allies consider it a further provocation and push for tougher sanctions.
Pyongyang praised the launch, saying in a statement “the fascinating vapor of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star.” Juche is a North Korean philosophy focusing on self-reliance; the Day of the Shining Star refers to the Feb. 16 birthday of former dictator Kim Jong Il. North Korea has previously staged rocket launches to mark important anniversaries.
Japan television’s NHK reported the debris had fallen 155 miles off the southwest coast of the Korean Peninsula into the East China Sea, according to Sky News. It also showed footage of an object visible in the skies over Okinawa which was believed to be the rocket.
The global condemnation began almost immediately.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the launch was an “intolerable provocation.” She said the North’s efforts to advance its missile capabilities were “all about maintaining the regime” in Pyongyang and criticized the North Korean leadership for ignoring the hardships of ordinary North Koreans.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “We will take action to totally protect the safety and well-being of our people.”
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