The commander of U.S. Forces Korea is calling on Seoul and Washington to implement a "layered" ballistic missile defense capability, in another strong signal that the U.S. is keen to deploy its THAAD system to the Korean peninsula.
In a written testimony to the U.S. House appropriations subcommittee on defense on Thursday, General Curtis Scaparrotti stressed the need for a ballistic missile defense capability in South Korea due to the threat posed by North Korea.
On the same day, an official from the U.S. Defense Department said Washington is prepared to hold official talks with Seoul about the possible deployment of THAAD as there have been no formal consultations thus far.
The ongoing speculation about the possible deployment of THAAD to South Korea has stirred controversy inside and outside of Korea.
China and Russia are deeply opposed to THAAD being on their regional doorstep, saying it would infringe upon their national security.
On the other hand, its supporters say THAAD would counter North Korea's increasing ballistic and missile threats.
The U.S. also believes the threat posed by North Korea has become even more acute.
Scaparrotti says that Pyongyang has the ability to produce a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can be mounted on top of a ballistic missile.
North Korea has conducted three nuclear bomb tests, the first in 2006, the second in 2009, and the most recent coming in February 2013.
Experts predict a potential fourth testing would be to test a miniaturized warhead.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.