President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has ordered a probe after he says four additional U.S. THAAD anti-missile system launchers were brought into the country and the Defense Ministry failed to inform him.
Four additional launchers were installed without informing the new government or the public, presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan told media. He said the president “said it was very shocking” to hear of the additional installation.
Initially deployed in March, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system battery had two of its maximum six launchers to counter a growing North Korean missile threat, reports Reuters.
The deployment of the THAAD system incensed China, North Korea’s only ally in the region.
South Korea’s President Moon called for a parliamentary review of the THAAD system during his May 9 campaign for the presidential election, and had called for engagement with the notoriously reclusive state to the north.
“He expressed the conviction that it would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger ‘gift package’ to the Yankees” in retaliation for American military provocation, KCNA, the North’s news agency, quoted Kim as saying.
Reuters reports that the U.S. military in South Korea did not have an immediate comment on Moon’s statement about the THAAD placement, and neither did the South Korean military.
The U.S. has a mutual defense treaty with South Korea that dates from the end of the Korean War and has 28,500 troops stationed there.