USFK: THAAD in operation against N. Korean missiles

SEOUL-- American troops in South Korea confirmed Tuesday that their advanced missile defense system, called THAAD, has been put into operation despite controversies over its deployment here and cost.

"U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) confirms the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend the Republic of Korea," the USFK's spokesman Col. Rob Manning said in an emailed statement. He was calling South Korea by its official name.

The announcement came less than a week after the USFK began installing the THAAD system at a former golf course in the rural town of Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

Local residents have fiercely protested the move, with South Koreans still divided over the issue.

The allies also appear to be bracing for a dispute over the financial burden in operating the THAAD battery on the peninsula. President Donald Trump openly said he wants South Korea to pay for it, which has a price tag of US$1 billion.

Seoul immediately refuted the demand, saying it has already provided land under a 2016 agreement and has no additional financial obligation.

Besides, South Korea has long been a main buyer of U.S. weapons.

Meanwhile, Pentagon officials said THAAD in Korea has just reached its "initial operational capability," according to foreign news reports.

It will take months before the entire system is up and running full time, they added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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