Mattis and South Korea’s acting president reiterated the need for the THAAD anti-missile system. For the Chinese, Trump is strengthening the US presence in Northeast Asia. Catholic Church is against turning the Korean peninsula into the focus of a new cold war.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – Seoul (AsiaNews) – The new US defence secretary, James Mattis, and Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn reaffirmed on Thursday their resolve to deploy the anti-ballistic Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea to counter North Korea’s nuclear programme.
Mattis’ two-day trip to South Korea, which will end today and be followed by a stop in Japan, is designed to get US allies to spend more on regional defence.
The THAAD, which costs 800 million US dollars per weapon, provides high-altitude radar monitoring and "automatic response" against threats, but has been immediately opposed by China, Russia and the Korean Catholic Church.
Beijing and Moscow are concerned that the monitoring on the peninsula is also directed at them. Russia, in addition, fears an escalation of tension between the two Koreas, with unpredictable actions from Pyongyang.
“While Trump’s ‘America first’ pledge may lead to US retreat from many of the world’s affairs, he is going to strengthen the US presence in Northeast Asia,” said Cui Zhiying, Director of the Korean Peninsula Research Centre at Tongji University.
The Korean Catholic Church has long opposed THAAD, which could transform the peninsula into "the centre of a new Cold War".
On 15 July 2016, in an official statement, the bishops reiterated that "peace is never achieved with weapons but through faith." For this reason, they asked South Korean authorities to drop the THAAD system and their North Korean counterparts to halt their nuclear enrichment.
In addition, the bishops called for greater joint economic development opportunities between the two Koreas. The path, they wrote, is not via "military pressure" but through "dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation."