WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) —North Korea‘s development of nuclear weapons requires THAAD negotiations with the South, the U.S. deputy secretary of state said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Antony Blinken said even if China opposes the deployment of the U.S. anti-missile defense system in South Korea, negotiations are necessary to counter North Korean threats, Yonhap reported.
The United States would sit down with China to assure Beijing of the specific aims of THAAD and explain the technical and performance specifications to the Chinese government before any steps are taken, Blinken said.
The system “does not affect China strategically, but we know that China does not like it,” he added, according to Voice of America.
The State Department official said if North Korea keeps repeating its current provocations, and to protect the security of allies in the region, necessary measures would need to be taken and THAAD deployment cannot be ruled out.
North Korea is getting close to miniaturizing nuclear warheads and mounting them on intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the continental United States, Blinken said.
The U.S. official said Washington isn’t seeking regime change, but is keen to get North Korea on board with denuclearization. The Obama administration’s past track record proves this, he said.
“The agreement with Iran on its nuclear program should be powerful evidence to North Korea that we are prepared to engage with countries with whom we have the most profound differences,” Blinken said, referring to the deal that was brokered in 2015.
North Korea, however, has repeatedly stated it is not interested in giving up its nuclear weapons, opting instead to make provocations in the wake of new sanctions adopted at the United Nations Security Council – and large-scale military exercises being held in the South.
Pyongyang has fired several short-range missiles as well, according to South Korean military officials.