Russia and China have voiced serious concern after the U.S. military started moving parts of a missile-defense system to a site in South Korea amid increasing tensions with the North.
South Korean media reported that the long-planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to South Korea began on Wednesday with the arrival of radar equipment and other hardware.
There were scuffles between police and protesters on Wednesday as pieces of equipment from the missile system began arriving at the designated site.
Press TV reports:
Reacting at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called on the US and South Korea to halt the deployment operations.
The spokesman said Beijing had conveyed its serious concern to the US and South Korea over the matter.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have significantly spiked in recent weeks. The US, concerned by North Korea’s rapidly-developing missile and military nuclear programs, has sent a strike force and submarine to the peninsula. Pyongyang has said it is ready for war. The two sides have been increasingly trading threats of military action against one another.
Referring to those tensions on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against “heavy-handed approaches,” which he said would have many “catastrophic consequences” for the region.
“It is obvious that heavy-handed approaches that are beginning to be mentioned publicly are fraught with catastrophic consequences for the Korean Peninsula and the whole of Northeast Asia,” he told the annual Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS).
Specifically referring to the deployment of the THAAD, the Russian foreign minister said, “An extremely destabilizing factor remains the forced deployment of US THAAD systems, a component of the US global missile defense, in the south of the peninsula.”
Also present at the MCIS was Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, who delivered a speech at the event.
Dehqan used his speech to warn against the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “We are of the opinion that if the Korean Peninsula crisis slides toward war, it would have destructive and global consequences,” he said.
The start of the operations to deploy the THAAD at a time of increased tensions specifically serves to complicate the situation.
The US missile system is being installed in Seongju in South Korea’s North Gyeongsang Province.