No final decision has been made as to the potential deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, the Defense Department said Tuesday, amid growing speculation that a decision is imminent.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook made the remark in response to a question about a newspaper report that the U.S. and the South have reached a decision to place a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery in the South's southeastern town of Chilgok.
"I can't confirm any report of that kind. I can just tell you that the conversations that we're having and the negotiations that we've been having with the South Koreans that continue to make progress and no final decisions have been made," Cook said at a regular press briefing.
He declined comment on how close the two sides are to a decision.
"I think it's safe to say that, again, these have been good conversations from the beginning. We made this alliance decision to move forward with these talks and, again, no final decisions have been made but I think we look forward to seeing the outcome of these conversations," he said.
Following the North's long-range missile test in February, Seoul and Washington launched official talks about placing a THAAD battery in the South to bolster defense against missile threats from the communist nation.
The issue has drawn renewed attention due to the North's recent series of ballistic missile tests, including two launches last week of the Musudan intermediate-range missile that is believed to be capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam, a forward base for U.S. bombers.
THAAD has been a sensitive issue because of China's strong opposition to it. Beijing claims that THAAD, especially a powerful radar that comes with it, can be used against it, despite repeated assurances from Washington that the system is aimed only at deterring North Korean threats. (Yonhap)