(Bloomberg) — Four launchers for a U.S. missile shield
arrived at a military base in South Korea on Thursday, as Seoul
warned North Korea may launch a new missile as soon as this
South Korea had said already that Pyongyang may be gearing
up for another rocket test in the aftermath of its nuclear
detonation on Sunday, as it seeks to improve the capacity of its
intercontinental ballistic missile program.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said at a conference in Seoul on
Thursday that North Korea may launch its next missile on
Saturday —- the anniversary of its founding — adding there
isn’t much time until the regime becomes a fully nuclear-armed
state. The yen strengthened on Lee’s remarks.
South Korea has said the launchers for the U.S. missile
defense system known as Thaad would be installed in the face of
the growing threat from Pyongyang. The move has already drawn a
rebuke from China, which says Thaad could upset the regional
security balance and be used against its own missile systems.
The deployment of Thaad “does not help addressing the
security concerns of relevant countries,” Geng Shuang, a
spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said at a briefing in
Beijing on Wednesday. “It will only severely undermine the
strategic balance in the region, jeopardize strategic and
security interests of the regional countries, including China,
aggravate the tension and confrontation, and further complicate
the Peninsular issue.”
On coming to power in May, President Moon Jae-in opposed
the early installation of the shield. But North Korea’s ICBM
launches in July prompted him to order his government to discuss
deployment of the four remaining launchers at the Seongju
military base, 220 kilometers (136 miles) southeast of Seoul.
Moon is in Vladivostok where he met Thursday morning with
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. On Wednesday, Moon sought to
find common ground with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on
sanctions, though Putin opposes further penalties on the regime.
Putin and Abe are set to meet later Thursday.
The initial decision by Moon’s predecessor Park Geun-hye to
install Thaad led China to slap painful economic penalties on
South Korea. It ordered travel agencies to stop selling tour
packages to South Korea and took steps against Lotte Group, one
of South Korea’s largest family-run conglomerates, which offered
up the land that hosts Thaad’s missile battery.
There were 2.3 million fewer Chinese tourists in the five
months through July from the same period last year.
Read here why Thaad bothers China
The system, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., is designed to
destroy short-and-medium-range ballistic missiles at high
altitudes in their “terminal” phase, as they descend. It’s
different from conventional defense missiles, which seek to get
close to a target and self-detonate to damage or deflect the
The U.S. is circulating a draft resolution at the United
Nations that would bar crude oil shipments to North Korea, ban
the nation’s exports of textiles and prohibit employment of its
guest workers by other countries, according to a diplomat at the
The proposal, which also calls for freezing the assets of
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has been circulated to the 15
members of the Security Council, according to the diplomat, who
asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.
The U.S. has said it wants the council to take up tougher
sanctions at a meeting Sept. 11.
The bid for the toughest penalties yet against North Korea
comes despite renewed warnings against such moves by the leaders
of China and Russia, which have veto power in the Security
Council. U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi
Jinping spoke for 45 minutes Wednesday amid Pyongyang’s stepped-
up pace of nuclear and missile tests.
“We will not be putting up with what’s happening in North
Korea,” Trump told reporters Wednesday after the conversation.
The two leaders had a “very, very frank and very strong call,”
he added. Asked about possible U.S. military action, the
president said “That’s not our first choice, but we’ll see what
–With assistance from Shinhye Kang, Kambiz Foroohar and Seyoon
To contact the reporters on this story:
Kanga Kong in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.org;
Sam Kim in Seoul at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Daniel Ten Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org
Andy Sharp, Rosalind Mathieson