USFK chief tours POSCO steel mill with THAAD in mind

SEOUL-- The top American military commander in South Korea recently toured a POSCO steel mill, his office announced Thursday, stressing the need for the THAAD missile defense system to help protect such key industrial facilities.

Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, chief of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) and the allies' Combined Forces Command (CFC), paid a visit to the facility in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province, on Wednesday.

He "witnessed firsthand, the leading-edge capability of one of the ROK's biggest international economic contributors," the USFK said, using the acronym for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.

POSCO is the country's number one steelmaker and its plant in Gwangyang is a top producer of steel for the automotive industry.

Its manufacturing capability can quickly convert to support wartime requirements in the event of a crisis on the Korean peninsula, noted the USFK.

It cited the importance of fully deploying THAAD at its new base in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

"Areas such as these, visited by Gen. Brooks, are types of critical civilian infrastructure that are protected against North Korean ballistic missiles by the THAAD battery in Seongju," the USFK said on its website.

It came as the Moon Jae-in administration of South Korea has suspended the positioning of additional THAAD rocket launchers amid its doubts over the transparency of related domestic procedures including due environmental impact assessment.

Moon is scheduled to hold summit talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. later this week, in which the THAAD issue will likely be discussed.

The USFK wants to wrap up the deployment process as early as possible.

"This was a very useful and also a fascinating visit. South Korea is a world leader in this industry, the commander was quoted as saying. I told the leaders that this is part of what CFC defends in times of deterrence and especially in war, as it is key to economic survival as well as military success."

He also visited naval forces and facilities of South Korea and the U.S. in Busan and Jinhae in the southeast.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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