The United States and South Korea agreed to install the THAAD missile defense system following repeated nuclear and missile tests by North Korea. (Photo by AFP)
Russia and China have condemned the United States for its decision to deploy missile systems in Europe and South Korea purportedly in response to Iranian and North Korean missiles.
Top military officials from Russia and China blasted Washington on Tuesday over the missile systems during the 7th annual Xiangshan regional defense forum in Beijing.
The officials said the move by Washington and Seoul represented a threat to regional stability and was a step towards a new global arms race.
Washington was using Pyongyang's nuclear tests as a pretext to gain military superiority over China, Chinese general Cai Jun told military officials at a briefing on the forum's sidelines.
Deploying THAAD in South Korea was "not conducive to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula", he said, adding "it has increased the risk of military conflict in the region."
Washington’s insistence on developing THAAD could trigger "an arms race at a high level, even to outer space," Cai said. "We are concerned about the attempts of certain nations to exploit the complex situation in the Korean peninsula."
Beijing fears that the US missile system could be used against Chinese missiles, which would undermine China’s nuclear deterrence capabilities against the US.
“China and Russia have similar positions about strategic anti-ballistic missile systems and oppose attempts by any nation or group of nations to create such systems unilaterally at the expense of strategic international security,” the Chinese general said.
Speaking alongside the Chinese official, Russian Lieutenant General Viktor Poznikhir said the US missile system in Europe threatens Russia’s security and needs to be countered with better ballistic missiles.
American deception over the deployment of its missile system in Europe is underscored by the fact that the project continues despite a nuclear agreement with Iran, which Washington claimed to be the main target for the antimissile shield, Poznikhir said.
The Russian official added that in addition to undermining Russian and Chinese nuclear deterrence, the US system poses a potential threat to any nation pursuing space exploration. He said Russia and China are forced to respond to these threats and preserve the strategic balance of power.
The system’s “anti-satellite capability is one of the reasons why the US rejects any treaties on banning weapons in space,” Poznikhir said. “The actions of the US do not give credibility to their statements that Russian and Chinese missiles and satellites are not considered targets for their antimissile systems.”