TOKYO — South Korea’s newly elected president, Moon Jae-in, has suspended the deployment of an American missile defense system designed to counter North Korean threats, clearly signaling a less friendly approach to the United States’ agenda than his predecessor’s.
The Yonhap News Agency reported that a senior official from Mr. Moon’s administration said that the two launchers of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system that had been installed could remain but that four launchers that had yet to be deployed would not be installed until the administration completed an environmental assessment.
The missile defense system, known as Thaad, has been controversial in South Korea and has drawn sharp criticism from China, which views the system’s radar as a threat. China took retaliatory economic measures against South Korea, including curtailing the flow of Chinese tourists and punishing South Korean companies in China.
During his campaign, Mr. Moon, who won the presidency last month, complained that the deployment of Thaad had been rushed through before the election in order to present him with a fait accompli. His decision to suspend the system’s installation could strain relations with President Trump’s administration, which has taken a hard line in confronting North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.
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