South Korean adviser: ‘Impossible’ for us to pay for US missile defense system

An adviser to South Korea’s leading presidential candidate says it would be “impossible” for his country to pay for a U.S. missile defense system, as President Trump has demanded.

In an interview with Reuters Thursday, Trump said he wanted to make South Korea pay for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being installed in South Korea. The system is meant to shoot down any missiles fired at South Korea by its aggressive neighbor to the north.

Trump estimated the system costs about $1 billion.

“I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It’s a billion-dollar system,” Trump said. “It’s phenomenal, shoots missiles right out of the sky.”

But Kim Ki-jung, foreign policy adviser to South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, said there’s no way South Korea could pay for the system. Moon is leading in polls ahead of the May 9 election.

“Even if we purchase THAAD, its main operation would be in the hands of the United States,” Kim told Reuters. “So purchasing it would be an impossible option. That was our topic when we were considering the options.”

The current agreement between the two countries is that South Korea will provide land for the missile system while the United States pays for installation and operation.

According to Reuters, South Korea’s defense ministry said there was no change to the existing agreement.

This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner

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