US missile launchers and other equipment needed to set up a controversial missile defense system have arrived in South Korea, the US and South Korean militaries said Tuesday, a day after North Korea test-launched four ballistic missiles into the ocean near Japan. The plans to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, within this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China and Russia, which see the system's powerful radars as a security threat, the AP reports. China firmly opposes the deployment and it responded quickly, saying it will take "necessary measures" to protect itself and warning that the US and South Korea should be prepared to bear the consequences.
Washington and Seoul say the system is defensive and not meant to be a threat to Beijing or Moscow. The US military said in a statement that THAAD can intercept and destroy short and medium range ballistic missiles during the last part of their flights. "Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday's launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea," Adm. Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said in the statement. The BBC reports that there is also opposition within South Korea, with those living near missile sites fearing that the system itself could become a target.