0520 GMT October 04, 2022
The office said US National Security Adviser H.R McMaster had reassured his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, during a telephone conversation on Sunday that Washington was committed to the Status of Forces Agreement, under which Seoul would only provide location and infrastructure for the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) without further costs.
McMaster said the US-South Korea alliance was a top priority in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the presidential office.
President Donald Trump had last week said it would be “appropriate” for South Korea to pay for the costs of the billion-dollar missile system. Seoul said it would not be making any such payments as per the Status of Forces Agreement.
Seoul and Washington reached an agreement over the THAAD’s deployment in July last year, declaring that the objective to deploy it to South Korea would be to counter potential missile threats from North Korea.
THAAD has been designed to intercept ballistic missiles inside or just outside the atmosphere during their final phase of flight. The US missile system is being installed in Seongju, in South Korea’s North Gyeongsang Province.
Russia and China have expressed deep concern over the controversial deployment of the American missile system on the Korean Peninsula, with Chinese officials arguing that the US system would interfere with their radars and could pose a threat to Chinese security.
Pyongyang, whose nuclear and missile tests have provided the pretext for the THAAD’s deployment, has expressed strong opposition to the move, too.
North Korea, under a raft of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs, says it is developing arms as deterrence against the US. It says it will not abandon the missile and nuclear programs unless the US ends its hostility toward Pyongyang.
The North, which has so far conducted five confirmed nuclear tests and numerous missile test-launches, is believed to be preparing for its sixth nuclear weapons test.
Tensions have been running high between North Korea and the US in recent weeks.