South Korea deploys parts of US THAAD system

This image provided by Yonhap News TV shows South Korea's National Security Office chief Kim Kwan-jin and his U.S. counterpart H. R. McMaster

This image provided by Yonhap News TV shows South Korea's National Security Office chief Kim Kwan-jin and his U.S. counterpart H. R. McMaster

North Korea said on Wednesday leader Kim Jong Un had supervised the country's "largest-ever" live-fire drill to mark the 85th founding anniversary of its military, with more than 300 large-calibre, self-propelled artillery guns demonstrating their fire power at an event on its east coast.

US military vehicle moves past banners opposing a plan to deploy an advanced USA missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, as South Korean police officers stand guard in Seongju, South. They say it is exclusively aimed at defending against North Korea.

The work to set up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, within this year has angered North Korea, China and Russian Federation, which see the system's powerful radars as a security threat.

"South Korea and the United States have been working to secure an early operational capability of the THAAD system in response to North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile threat", the ministry said in a statement.

Beijing said it expressed "serious concern" to Seoul and Washington and warned it will "firmly take necessary measures to safeguard its own interests".

China is North Korea's sole major ally and is seen as crucial to US-led efforts to rein in its bellicose, isolated neighbor. The same team also met with House members in the Capitol to outline the North's escalating nuclear capabilities and US response options to what they called an "urgent national security threat".

Harris' testimony comes ahead of two congressional briefings on North Korea Wednesday afternoon, where Defense Secretary James Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will brief the full House and Senate.

"Presidential candidate Moon Jae-in has consistently stated that the deployment of THAAD should be decided by the next government through taking into account sufficient public consultation, consensus and consideration of our national interests and the ROK-US alliance", a statement released by Moon's spokesman, Park Kwang-on, read.

Television footage showed military trailers carrying equipment, including what appeared to be launch canisters, to the battery site. About 200 residents and protesters rallied against THAAD in front of a local community center, some hurling plastic water bottles.

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The allies signed a deal past year to deploy the THAAD system on the peninsula to help intercept North Korea's ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protestors clashed with the police against the transportation of the THAAD equipment.

Kim said about 200 protesters rallied overnight and they would keep up their opposition. Graham told Fox News he was impressed by Trump's resolve.

A police official in the nearby town of Seongju said police had withdrawn from the area and were not aware of any injuries.

THAAD "will be operational in the coming days and able to better defend South Korea against the growing North Korean threat", Admiral Harry Harris, who heads Pacific Command, told lawmakers in Washington. THAAD is created to take out incoming targets in midflight at relatively high altitudes and military experts say the system could provide protection against North Korea's midrange missiles.

Washington has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the peninsula in a show of force, amid signs the North could be preparing for a sixth nuclear test.

Seoul held a large annual drill of its own Wednesday, involving some 100 artillery pieces, 90 armoured vehicles and 50 aircraft, as well as 2,000 South Korean and United States troops, the defence ministry said.

Tillerson is chairing a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday created to get nations to enforce existing penalties on North Korea and weigh new ones.

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