US THAAD missile deployment begins despite Chinese warnings
The U.S. military has started moving parts of the controversial THAAD anti-missile defense system into a planned deployment site in South Korea, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, amid high tensions over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.
The United States and South Korea have agreed to deploy THAAD in response to the threat of missile launches by North Korea but China says it will do little to deter the North while destabilizing the regional security balance.
South Korean defense ministry officials and U.S. military officials could not immediately be reached for confirmation.
The United States began moving the first elements of the advanced missile defense system into South Korea in early March after the North test-launched four ballistic missiles.
But the U.S. and South Korean militaries have been reluctant to publicly discuss the progress of the deployment as candidates in a May 9 presidential election debated whether the move should go ahead or be delayed until after the vote.
South Korea has said China has discriminated against some South Korean companies in retaliation against the deployment.