Mattis, South Korean Counterpart Discuss Alliance, Missile Defense


South Korea has cleared the way for a land transfer critical to the planned placement of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement issued yesterday.

South Korean Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Sun Jin Lee visits the site of Guam's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system with U.S. Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the combined U.S. forces in South Korea, Nov. 1, 2016. South Korea will soon complete a land transfer critical to the placement of a THAAD system about 135 miles southeast of Seoul. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel
South Korean Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Sun Jin Lee visits the site of Guam's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system with U.S. Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the combined U.S. forces in South Korea, Nov. 1, 2016. South Korea will soon complete a land transfer critical to the placement of a THAAD system about 135 miles southeast of Seoul. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel
South Korean Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Sun Jin Lee visits the site of Guam's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system with U.S. Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the combined U.S. forces in South Korea, Nov. 1, 2016. South Korea will soon complete a land transfer critical to the placement of a THAAD system about 135 miles southeast of Seoul. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel
South Korea Army joint chief of staff visits THAAD on Guam
South Korean Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Sun Jin Lee visits the site of Guam's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system with U.S. Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the combined U.S. forces in South Korea, Nov. 1, 2016. South Korea will soon complete a land transfer critical to the placement of a THAAD system about 135 miles southeast of Seoul. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel
Photo By: Staff Sgt. Alexander Riedel
VIRIN: 161101-F-CH060-379

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo via telephone yesterday to discuss the future of the alliance, Davis said.

Mattis told Han that the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of South Korea, the captain said. “He further emphasized that any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming,” Davis said.‎

The two leaders discussed the current regional security ‎environment, including North Korea's Feb. 12 ballistic missile launch over the Sea of Japan, he said.

Mattis welcomed the official transfer of land on a golf course owned by the Lotte Group in the Seongju region, about 135 miles southeast of Seoul, to the South Korean government, the captain said. This land transfer will support the alliance’s decision to station a THAAD system in South Korea as soon as feasible, he said. This is a critical measure to defend the South Korean people and alliance forces against North Korean missile threats, Davis noted.

Defense officials said last year that, in response to the evolving threat posed by North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea began conducting formal consultations in Feb. 2016 regarding the feasibility of deploying a THAAD battery, and decided to move ahead in July 2016. The battery will be operated by U.S. Forces Korea to improve the missile defense posture of the alliance, officials said.

Mattis concluded the phone call by thanking Han for his efforts in strengthening the alliance, the captain said.