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US to deploy THAAD system to S Korea ‘as soon as possible’

US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd R) speaks at the start of a meeting co-chaired by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (R) with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (2nd L) and Defense Minister Han Min-goo at the State Department in Washington, DC, on October 19, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The United States is set to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery to South Korea in the wake of the North’s missile tests, deemed menacing by Seoul and Washington

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement at a joint press conference along with their South Korean counterparts, Han Min-goo and Yun Byung-se in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

Kerry attacked Pyongyang for its missile tests, saying the THAAD system would be deployed “as soon as possible.”

"Now more than ever, the actions and the policies of North Korea are at the forefront of all of our concerns. The DPRK's latest nuclear test and its repeated ballistic missile tests are a threat to regional stability, and yet another blatant example of a violation of multiple US Security Council resolutions,” Kerry said. “There should be no doubt that the United States will do whatever is necessary to defend ourselves and to honor the security commitments that we have made to allies including the Republic of Korea.”

Any other countries cooperating with Pyongyang should be ready to face the consequences, the US top diplomat warned.

This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 18, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly built Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital in Pyongyang. (Photo by AFP)

“Every country has a responsibility to cooperate in rigorously enforcing sanctions that have been imposed by the UN Security Council, and we need to ensure, working together, that the DPRK pays a price for its dangerous actions, even-and I want to emphasize this-even as we work for the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

Carted also described the US support for Seoul as “unwavering,” asserting, “This includes our commitment to provide extended deterrence guaranteed by the full spectrum of US defense capabilities. Make no mistake, any attack on America or our allies our allies will not only be defeated but also any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an overwhelming and effective response."

According to the South Korean foreign minister (pictured above), Seoul currently faces “the gravest nuclear and missile threat ever since the armistice.”

“Despite our countless endeavors to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem over the past two decades, Pyongyang has never relented in its pursuit of a nuclear program.”

North Korea has conducted a series of military technology tests this year, including a fourth nuclear test in January, to counter what it describes as joint US and South Korean “provocations” in the region.

The US is a close ally of South Korea and the two countries hold joint annual military exercises every year.

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