WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 -- The United States intends to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea "as soon as possible," a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.
"Given the accelerating pace of North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)'s missile tests, we intend to deploy on an accelerated basis -- I would say as soon as possible," Daniel Russel, U.S. assistant secretary of state, told a hearing held by the Asia Pacific subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The senior official did not provide the timeline of the deployment, saying that "perhaps our colleagues in the Defense Department and the Republic of Korea" can comment on the timeline.
Russel also said that the THAAD system is "a defensive measure aimed not at China, but at North Korea (DPRK)."
In July, Seoul and Washington announced an agreement to install one THAAD battery in South Korea by the end of next year, claiming that it was aimed to deter ballistic missiles from the DPRK.
China and Russia have expressed strong opposition to the THAAD deployment on the Korean Peninsula as the system far exceeds South Korea's actual defense needs.
The deployment is not conducive to the denuclearization of the Peninsula nor to maintaining peace and stability, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in July.
It said the move goes against efforts to calm regional tension, and severely harms the security interests of countries in the area including China, as well as the "strategic balance" in the region.
China urged the United States and South Korea to terminate the deployment of THAAD, and not to take any action which may complicate the regional situation and harm China's interests.