Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Okinawa papers blast police for 'violating freedom of press'

NAHA--Riot police have been accused of violating the freedom of the press after they grabbed reporters and removed them from a demonstration against U.S. military helipads in northern Okinawa Prefecture.
Two major newspapers here, The Okinawa Times and The Ryukyu Shimpo, each printed a statement protesting the manhandling of their reporters on Aug. 20.
The journalists were covering a clash between riot police and protesters demonstrating against a U.S. military helipad project.
The newspapers claimed the authorities were in “violation of freedom of the press” by disrupting the activity of their reporters.

Army grows Pacific Pathways, ties with Asian partners

The Army is set to expand its Pacific Pathways missions, with plans calling for one to be led by an Army National Guard brigade and another that will include a stop in Vietnam.

“Pacific Pathways is, in my opinion, the biggest innovation I’ve seen in training and exercises in 35 years,” said Gen. Robert Brown, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific. “Yes, it’s the same exercises we used to do, but it’s done in different ways. It provides options to the combatant commander, where he’ll have forces 10 months out of the year west of the international dateline.”

Pacific Pathways, which made its debut in 2014, employ a single unit through what officials call a “training pathway.” This unit spends three to four months in a series of already approved, consecutive bilateral and multilateral exercises and engagements with foreign militaries.

Previous Pathways have included stops in Mongolia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Pathways are part of the Army’s contribution to the United States’ rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. They also enable the Army to commit troops to a specific region of the world to support the geographic combatant commanders.

“It’s more faces in more places without more bases,” Brown said during a roundtable Wednesday with reporters at the Pentagon.

Guam: Where the US Military Is Revered and Reviled

As the U.S. military plans to nearly double its presence on Guam, indigenous people say “no more.”

DoD releases $55M promised to Guam Waterworks Authority

Fresh from fending off a party challenge for her Democratic incumbent seat in the House of Representatives, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo announced yesterday that the Department of Defense awarded $55.3 million to the Guam Waterworks Authority for civilian water and wastewater improvements.
The money authorized in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act and announced last November is part of $106.4 million additional appropriation request which Bordallo sponsored and was approved by Congress. The money is related to water and wastewater improvement projects connected to the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

Anti-U.S. helipad protesters dig in heels in Okinawa vs. riot police

August 30, 2016 at 18:00 JST

HIGASHI, Okinawa Prefecture--As roaring tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft fly nearby, a battle of attrition continues on the ground.
The belligerents are demonstrators opposing the construction of U.S. military helipads on one side and, on the other, riot police.
“Excessive policing,” is how Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga has described the mobilization of hundreds of riot police, who have been flown in from around the nation to deal with the protesters.
The prefectural police dispute Onaga's accusation, saying the police are acting in the “appropriate line of duty.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business

THE ESCALATING ANTI-RUSSIAN rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.
Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.
In particular, the arms industry — both directly and through its arsenal of hired-gun, think-tank experts and lobbyists – is actively pressuring NATO member nations to hike defense spending in line with the NATO goal for member states to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

Protests over military expansion in Okinawa - Roads blocked, press barred

Public anger is rising on Okinawa at a proposed site for new U.S. military landing pads, with residents and reporters criticizing what they say are heavy-handed tactics by the Japanese authorities to push the project through.
Last month, the U.S. military declared it was preparing to revert to Japanese control almost 4,000 hectares of jungle land from its Northern Training Area, Okinawa. The timing of the announcement was widely seen as an attempt to defuse local fury following a spate of American crimes on the island, including the alleged murder of a woman by a former Marine in April.
One month after the announcement, however, tensions on Okinawa are more inflamed than ever.
Residents are angry over the conditions attached by Tokyo and Washington to the upcoming land return: the construction of six new helipads in Takae, a district of the village of Higashi with a population of fewer than 150 people. Two of those helipads — measuring 75 meters in diameter — have already been completed. But villagers are determined to block the construction of the others, citing risks posed by low-flying aircraft, including Ospreys, and damage to the environment. The area is said to be home to more than 170 endangered species.

Report: Japan plans to deploy upgraded surface-to-air missile

TOKYO (Tribune News Service) — The Japanese government intends to deploy an upgraded version of a surface-to-air missile with enhanced interception capabilities on the Nansei Islands to reinforce the air defense of remote islands, including the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The 17.7 billion yen (about $176,514,666) cost of introducing the missile will be included in the Defense Ministry's initial budget request for fiscal 2017. The government aims to deploy the missile around 2021.
Chinese military aircraft are increasing their activity around the Senkaku Islands. The government aims to enhance deterrence by deploying the upgraded version of the surface-to-air missile.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The role of security assistance in Washington’s pivot to Southeast Asia

As part of the “rebalance” to Asia, the United States has initiated a number of promising maritime security assistance programs to aid overmatched Southeast Asian partners in resisting China’s maritime assertiveness. Just last month, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred the USCG Boutwell, a decommissioned Hamilton-class cutter, to the Philippine navy. A crew of 90 Filipino sailors is currentlytraining with the vessel off of the coast of California, before sailing home in October. The Boutwell is the third cutter Washington has transferred to Manila in the past five years.

Despite these new programs, U.S. security assistance to the Asia-Pacific still lags far behind Washington’s outlays to Europe and the Middle East. In fact, only 1%of U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) is deployed to Asia annually. If the United States truly wants to ensure that this will be “America’s Pacific Century,” then the next administration must align U.S. security assistance resources with its strategic priorities in the Asia-Pacific.

Actress Sayuri Yoshinaga questions why Japanese government does not bring Marines to Tokyo

August 19, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On August 8, the August 23-30 issue of the weekly magazine Jyosei Jishin hit shelves, containing a printed discussion between actress Sayuri Yoshinaga and political scientist Sang-jung Kang concerning construction of new helipads around Takae, Higashi Village, The topic of their discussion is the prevention of a new pre-war period. Through the dialogue, they touched on execution of the security legislation, citizens’ movements, Article 9, and abolition of nuclear weapons, among other things.
Kang pointed out that, “[The government] is forcefully suppressing Okinawans who are opposing construction of U.S. military helipads in the community of Takae, Okinawa.” In response Yoshinaga said, “I wish the people of Okinawa, who have had experiences so painful that they cannot be expressed with words, would be treated more humanely.” Both wished that the Japanese government would treat Okinawans opposing helipad construction more like people.

U.S. veterans’ group passes resolutions calling for abandonment of base construction at Henoko and Takae

Takae August 15, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
Washington special correspondent Sakae Toiyama reports
[Berkeley] At its annual national convention on August 15, Veterans for Peace, a peace organization made up of military veterans with 120 chapters across the United States, unanimously passed a resolution calling for cancellation of the plan to build a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago City, the planned relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. In addition, the group unanimously passed an emergency resolution calling for the cancellation of the construction of new helicopter landing pads (helipads) around Takae, Higashi Village, a condition for the return of a part of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area. It was the first time for VFP to pass a resolution regarding Henoko or Takae since it was established in 1985.

Opinion: Urgent measures needed to counter growing North Korean missile threat

Yomiuri Shimbun
North Korea's latest firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) indicates that Pyongyang's military threat is growing further. The international community must work together to speed up efforts to halt the country's provocations.
The U.N. Security Council has started considering issuing a statement to condemn North Korea's SLBM test launch toward the Sea of Japan.
It is vital for the UNSC to swiftly send a strong message to North Korea, which has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches in violation of U.N. sanctions resolutions.

Plebiscite vote axed for now


    The Commission on Decolonization met yesterday during which members determined that in spite of renewed energy regarding Guam’s political status quest, the timing just isn’t right to hold the vote – especially with an open-ended question on a 70 percent threshold requirement.
    “We waited 100 years, so as far as I’m concerned ... we waited too long, but we also understand the realities of having to deal with the cards that’s been placed on us,” Calvo said. “We have a lot of momentum, but with that momentum, let’s face it – and I think we all agree – November is a date that is just a big question mark.”

    Why China Should Fear the US Military's Third Offset Strategy

    The Pentagon has never been at a loss for cute catch phrases when it comes to describing the Next Big Thing in the way of warfare.
    In the 1900s, the U.S. military was all about the “revolution in military affairs” (RMA) and “network-centric warfare.” This gave way to “force modernization” in early 2000s, when Donald Rumsfeld was in charge. By 2010, it was “AirSea Battle” (ASB), later transmuted into the jaw-mangling “Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons.”
    Like many initiatives coming out of the Pentagon, it is long on ambition and short on details. Yet people in the Asia-Pacific had better become familiar with this new idea, as it will likely have a significant impact on the region.

    Sunday, August 28, 2016

    Locked in home-rule stalemate

    “It’s time we confronted the fact that, for nearly 400 years, the state of the island has been colonial. It is the unchanged and unrepentant shadow cast upon our unshackled destiny,” Calvo said.

    UN condemns 4 North Korean ballistic missile launches

    UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned four North Korean ballistic missile launches in July and August on Friday night, calling them "grave violations" of a ban on all ballistic missile activity.
    A press statement approved by all 15 members deplored the fact that the North's ballistic missile activities are contributing to its development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and increasing tensions.
    The council expressed "serious concern" that North Korea carried out the launches after six ballistic missile firings between April and June "in flagrant disregard" of its repeated statements to halt such launches as well as nuclear tests which violate council resolutions.
    It urged all U.N. member states "to redouble their efforts" to implement sanctions against Pyongyang, including the toughest measures in two decades imposed by the council in March. Those sanctions reflected growing anger at Pyongyang's nuclear test in January and a subsequent rocket launch.

    75,000 U.S., Korean, Canadian forces commence Pacific exercise

    WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- It's been five years now since the White House first announced an American "pivot to the Pacific," now characterized as a "rebalance." That rebalance came as the United States was drawing down operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and aimed to refocus on partnerships in the Pacific region, including Japan and Korea.

    As part of that ongoing rebalance, this week about 400 Soldiers in I Corps, headquartered out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, headed to South Korea to participate in the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, a joint and bilateral exercise involving as many as 75,000 military personnel from South Korea, the U.S. and Canada.

    US Military's Worst Nightmare: A War with Russia and China (at the Same Time)

    The United States discarded its oft-misunderstood “two war” doctrine, intended as a template for providing the means to fight two regional wars simultaneously, late last decade. Designed to deter North Korea from launching a war while the United States was involved in fighting against Iran or Iraq (or vice versa,) the idea helped give form to the Department of Defense’s procurement, logistical and basing strategies in the post–Cold War, when the United States no longer needed to face down the Soviet threat. The United States backed away from the doctrine because of changes in the international system, including the rising power of China and the proliferation of highly effective terrorist networks.
    But what if the United States had to fight two wars today, and not against states like North Korea and Iran? What if China and Russia sufficiently coordinated with one another to engage in simultaneous hostilities in the Pacific and in Europe?

    China conducts joint military exercises with Russia, US, Australia: Defense Ministry

    A series of joint military exercises among Chinese, Russian, U.S. and Australian troops is getting underway.
    Spokesperosn Wu Qian says Chinese ground forces are teaming up with US and Australian troops for training sessions in Australia’s rugged northern regions. 
    “Based on our agreement with the U.S. and Australian defense departments, China, the US and Australia are holding the joint ‘Exercise Kowari 2016′ that includes field survival training in Darwin, Australia from Aug. 24 to Sept. 11.”
    On top of this, the Chinese Defense Ministry says Chinese and Australian ground forces will also conduct their own, separate exercies – dubbed “Panda-Kangaroo 2016″ from September 14th to the 23rd.

    The US Holds More Pacific Exercises Than You Probably Realize

    The Army's Pacific Pathways program is even bringing some nations' military units to America for training.
    The pivot to Asia is proceeding on track, at least by two measures, for the U.S. Army. The number of soldiers, Guardsmen, and civilians assigned to the Pacific has swelled to 106,000, up 17 percent since 2013, but more importantly, the number of exercises with partner nations has grown as well,Pacific Commander Gen. Robert Brown said at a roundtable Wednesday.

    About 400 people gather in Takae to protest helipad construction

    August 19, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
    On the afternoon of August 19, about 400 people gathered in Takae Ward of Higashi Village to hold a protest rally against the construction of new helipads in the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area (NTA). The people taking part in the rally aimed to prevent the gravel used for the construction from being brought through the N1 zone gate to the NTA. After 5 p.m., those protesting assembled a line of about 180 cars and drove them at a reduced speed from near the Higashi village office in Taira to the main gate into the NTA. The protesting citizens parked the cars around the gate and staged a sit-in to completely block off the main gate.

    Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific

    Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific

    In recent years, the Obama administration has made tremendous efforts to strengthen U.S. power in the Asia Pacific region. Implementing its so-called “pivot” and “rebalance” to the area, the Obama administration has worked to position the United States as a Pacific power.
    “As President, I’ve rebalanced American foreign policy so that we’re playing a larger and long-term role in the Asia Pacific,” President Obama explained on August 2, 2016. The United States has “a massive interest in maintaining itself as a Asia Pacific power.”
    With its approach, the Obama administration has also pursued a familiar objective for the region. While the administration may have presented its pivot and rebalance as a major shift in U.S. strategy, the leaders of the United States have spent many decades working to position the United States as a Pacific power.

    North Korea test fires ballistic missile from submarine

    Seoul (CNN) North Korea test fired a submarine-based ballistic missile from its east coast on Wednesday, South Korean authorities said.
    The launch took place at 5:30 a.m. local time, according to a statement from the South Korean Foreign Ministry.
      North Korea's launch took place in the waters, off Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, in the early morning, the South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
      "If the North Korean regime continues to pursue its nuclear and missile capabilities and ignore severe economic difficulties of its people, it will bring about more severe sanctions and diplomatic isolation. It should also realize that it will hasten its self-destruction," the country's Foreign Ministry said.

      Anger in Okinawa Inflamed ‘More Than Ever’ Over New US Helipads

      Last month the Pentagon appeared to give in to the peaceful protests of Okinawans, agreeing to a land return to local residents, but that deal had a secret catch that has reignited fury on the island. New US military landing pads in Okinawa built by Japan have enraged demonstrators, who are blocking roads to protest the expansion of what they view as a foreign occupation by the United States military, abetted by the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

      The frustration of Okinawans threatens to spill over, after the April murder of a local woman by a former US Marine working on the island as a defense contractor.

      The situation became worse after an intoxicated US serviceman was responsible for a tragic car accident involving a local resident.

      Over 50,000 US nationals, including 30,000 military personnel and civilian contractors, are currently stationed in Okinawa, a critical military staging ground that enables Washington to assert influence throughout the eastern Pacific region.

      US Secretary of the Army - Essay on "The Foundations of Pacific Stability"

      WASHINGTON, DC—This month, I completed a two-week, six-stop tour of the Pacific, beginning with a visit to the United States Army’s 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. It was a fitting way to start the trip, a reminder that the US Army is critical to forming the foundation for security in the Pacific.
      The 25th Infantry Division, which in its early years earned the nickname “Tropic Lightning,” marks its 75th anniversary this autumn. The men and women stationed there—and, indeed, all US soldiers in the Asia-Pacific region—have been working to secure regional stability for much of the last century. Since US President Barack Obama’s strategic rebalance to Asia, they have been doing even more.
      Today, the US Army has a lot on its plate outside the region. It is at the forefront of the US-led coalition’s campaign against the so-called Islamic State, as well as efforts to support the people of Afghanistan.
      Yet we also continue to play a critical role in maintaining peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Though security in the Pacific is often associated with the efforts of the US Air Force and Navy, the Army is assuming an increasingly important role in strengthening regional partnerships. At a time when 6 of the world’s 10 largest armies are located in the Pacific theater of operations, and 22 of the region’s 27 countries have army officers as their defense chiefs, the need to invest in the US Army’s mission in the region is clear.

      Environmentalists back from extended Pagan tour

      SAIPAN – A group of environmentalists who went to Pagan to film a documentary titled “Too Beautiful To Bomb,” and to get first-hand experience of the remote volcanic island, had to extend their stay due to the bad weather.
      The trip was organized by the Alternative Zero Coalition, which comprises several local environmental groups opposed to “military plans that will harm the land, sea, and people of the Marianas.”

      Wednesday, August 24, 2016

      Opinion: China's Strategy has Paid Off

      Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University, is the author of “The China Choice: Why We Should Share Power.”
      UPDATED AUGUST 23, 2016, 3:20 AM
      For a long time China worked hard to reassure its Asian neighbors they had nothing to fear from its "peaceful rise." Now it is throwing all that away, as its bullying over issues like the South China Sea makes neighbors worry that China will use its growing strength to push them around. 
      That’s dumb if you think China’s aim is to make friends. But it might be smart if its aim is to undermine U.S. leadership in Asia and assert its own regional preponderance. That’s because China’s bullying tests America’s willingness to face down China on its friends’ and allies’ behalf. Beijing is gambling that Washington will talk tough but do nothing concrete that would risk a confrontation that might escalate into an open-ended conflict.
      Bruised friendships with regional neighbors seem a small price to pay for regional hegemony.
      So far their gamble has paid off. Stern words and inconclusive Freedom of Navigation transits have done nothing to stop China, and even after the recent Hague Tribunal judgment Beijing seems quite undeterred, and determined to keep pushing the boundaries.

      Opinion: China Must Balance Power and Cooperation

      Yu Tiejun is vice president of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies , and an associate professor of international studies at Peking University.
      UPDATED AUGUST 23, 2016, 3:20 AM
      In recent years, China has stressed the importance of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness in its regional relations. But China’s security relations in East Asia have been deteriorating.
      Even though China has continually demanded a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, North Korea has continued to develop nuclear weapons, conducting its fourth nuclear test and a series of missile tests. As a result, the top leaders of China and the Democratic Peoples’ Republic have not met since President Xi Jinping and Kim Jung Un took power, which is unprecedented for the two countries. 
      China’s overriding goal of peaceful development and national rejuvenation cannot be fulfilled without a stable and prosperous East Asia.
      China’s relationship with South Korea under Xi and President Park Geun Hye of the Republic of Korea, which had been regarded as the best example of China’s “neighborhood diplomacy,” began to stumble when South Korea agreed to have the United States deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery recently.

      Opinion: South China Sea as a Chinese Lake

      Jennifer Lind is a associate professor of government at Dartmouth College and the author of "Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics."
      UPDATED AUGUST 23, 2016, 3:20 AM
      China’s foreign policy is growing more assertive. For decades Beijing has made territorial claims in the East China and the South China Seas. But now Beijing is defending those claims; Chinese-flagged vessels increasingly enter disputed waters, extracting resources and harassing other claimants’ ships. In addition, China is constructing and militarizing artificial islands, and asserting maritime rights there beyond what international law allows. While these actions have provoked anger among China’s neighbors, so far Beijing’s assertive turn has been largely successful.
      As countries grow accustomed to deferring to Beijing’s claims, challenging them will feel increasingly like a dangerous provocation.
      China’s neighbors are not balancing against its encroachments. Most of the targets of China’s recent moves – e.g., the small ASEAN nations -- have modest economies and tiny defense budgets. They are understandably reluctant to confront China, a growing military power, and an important economic partner.

      Opinion: Bullying Provides Only Short-Term Gain for China

      Ellen L. Frost
      Ellen L. Frost, Senior Advisor and Fellow at the East West Center and Visiting Distinguished Research Fellow at National Defense University, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and counselor to the U.S. Trade Representative. The views expressed reflect only her own opinions.
      UPDATED AUGUST 23, 2016, 3:20 AM
      China is playing a long game, challenging U.S. leadership in Asia and taking advantage of the fear of escalation without triggering a full-scale war. Its behavior in the South China Sea — grabbing rocks, dredging sand, and building hardened hangars — has expanded its territorial control but is backfiring strategically.
      China doesn't grasp that the balance of power in Asia is no longer a zero-sum game. Market size and cheap loans cannot buy lasting friends.
      Washington is beefing up its military presence. U.S. alliances and partnerships in East and Southeast Asia are stronger than ever, and ties with new security partners are being forged. The United Nations arbitration panel ruled against China’s claims. Good will is a strategic asset, and China has squandered it. 

      Tuesday, August 23, 2016

      U.S. Air Force bomber trio conducts joint mission from Guam

      The United States has sent a powerful aerial patrol consisting of a B-52H Stratofortress, a B-1B Lancer supersonic bomber and B-2 Spirit stealth bomber on a joint mission over the South China Sea in a dramatic message targeting both China and North Korea.

      The unusual patrol of all three of the U.S.' strategic bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. U.S. military sources refused to confirm if the bombers were armed.

      The U.S. Department of Defense said the patrol was the first coordinated operation in Asia under the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). The Pentagon deployed the strategic bombers to conduct "Continuous Bomber Presence" patrols.

      "These bomber deployments visibly demonstrate our readiness and commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region," said US Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), which is part of USPACOM.

      US, South Korea Begin Annual Military Drill Despite Threats from Pyongyang

      Last Updated: August 22, 2016
      • Cindy Saine
      • South Korea and the United States have begun their annual joint military exercises under the threat of military retaliation by North Korea.
        Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told VOA on Monday that the drills are designed to make sure the United States can honor obligations to defend South Korea "against any potential aggression from the North."
        "This is an exercise we do every year," Davis said. "It is 100 percent defensive in nature."

      US-South Korean war games inflame Asian tensions

      By Peter Symonds 
      23 August 2016
      The annual joint US-South Korean military exercises known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) began yesterday amid rising tensions in Asia fuelled by the American military build-up throughout the region. While nominally aimed against North Korea, the war games consolidate Washington’s military alliance with Seoul as it makes preparations for conflict with China.
      The military drills involve around 25,000 US military personnel, of which 2,500 will come from outside South Korea, operating alongside 75,000 South Korean troops. The US has 28,500 troops stationed permanently in South Korea and is currently restructuring its bases in the country as part of its broader reorganisation of American military forces in the Asia Pacific.
      North Korea has responded with militarist threats to launch nuclear strikes on South Korea and the United States “if they show the slightest sign of aggression.” Such reckless and inflammatory threats, which have nothing to do with defending the North Korean people, play directly into Washington’s hands by providing a pretext for its own military expansion and provocations in the region.

      US Secretary of the Army: "The Foundations of Pacific Stability"

      Eric K. Fanning is US Secretary of the Army.

      WASHINGTON, DC – This month, I completed a two-week, six-stop tour of the Pacific, beginning with a visit to the United States Army’s 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. It was a fitting way to start the trip, a reminder that the US Army is critical to forming the foundation for security in the Pacific.

      Monday, August 22, 2016

      Analysts say US plan for missile defense in South Korea aimed not only against North Korea

      MOSCOW, August 16. /TASS/. Seoul’s and Washington’s decision to have the US missile defense complex THAAD up and running in the south of the Korean Peninsula in 2017 is aimed not just at countering a hypothetical threat from Pyongyang, but also at strengthening US positions in the Asia-Pacific Region, polled experts have told TASS.

      Pyongyang sees the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) as part and parcel of a plan for armed intrusion into the DPRK. North Korea’s government-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sunday said that the country was ready to deliver a pre-emptive strike against US armed forces in case of provocative actions in the Asia-Pacific Region.

      Earlier, China and Russia came out against Seoul’s intention to host the US missile defense. Yet, South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said on Monday the missile defense system had no alternative.

      THAAD is a threat to all

      The chief of the International Security Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ institute of the world economy and international relations (IMEMO), Aleksey Arbatov, has said protests against the United States’ THAAD in the Asia-Pacific Region were coming not only from Pyongyang, Beijing and Moscow, but also from South Koreans themselves. The population of those areas of South Korea where US missile defense facilities are to emerge reasonably fear that their localities will be the first targets for North Korean missiles in case of an aggravation of relations with Pyongyang. About one thousand men in South Korea’s Seoungju, where a THAAD battery will be deployed, have staged a mass protest action. They had their heads shaved to express their strong disagreement with the authorities’ plans.