South Korea and the U.S. have begun formal negotiations to discuss the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Officials from Seoul and Washington signed an agreement to set up a joint working group today.
Our national defense correspondent Kim Hyun-bin joins us live from the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul.
Hyun-bin, so is it now official that the two allies are in talks about introducing the sophisticated missile shield to the Korean peninsula?
Conn-young. Seoul and Washington signed an agreement earlier today to start official talks about the possible deployment of THAAD here in Korea.
"As part of enhancing Korea-U.S. missile defense readiness we will discuss the possible deployment of THAAD which will be managed by US Forces Korea."
The two sides discussed pre-requirements that need ironing out to deploy THAAD on the peninsula including the location of THAAD, management, safety and cost sharing of the U.S. missile defense system.
The sides were co-headed by the South Korean ministry's Director General Jang Kyung-soo and U.S. Forces Korea's Maj. Gen. Robert Hedelund.
The first working group was held here at the ministry at 3 p.m. local time.
The ministry says that the deployment of THAAD is being discussed due to the increasing threats from Pyongyang and in response to the regime's fourth nuclear test and long distance rocket launch earlier this year.
China and Russia have voiced their opposition to the deployment as the missile interceptor could pose a risk to strategic security.
China in particular has shown explicit irritation over the MD system, claiming that it could spy on Beijing's military posture.
To this, Seoul and Washington have assured that THAAD is a purely defensive system.
Hyun-bin, we've also been learning that the short distance projectiles North Korea fired yesterday are in fact new additions to the North's military hardware.
That's right, Conn-young. A military official says that around eight short distance projectiles fired on Thursday are thought to have been launched from North Korea's newly developed 300mm multiple rocket launcher.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is believed to have presided over the launch at Wonsan Gangwon-do province. This new weapon has a range of up to 200 kilometers and when fired from the border can target the newly built U.S. base in Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi-do Province.
Military officials says that the 300mm multiple rocket launcher is almost ready for placement on the frontlines, and added that the South Korean military needs to come up with new countermeasures to neutralize the weaponry.
South Korea has been developing its own multiple rocket launcher known as the Chunmoo but the system only has a range of 80 kilometers, which will not have enough firepower to neutralize North Korea's newly developed 300mm multiple rocket launchers.
Upgrade in military hardware perhaps. Thanks, Hyunbin. Our Kim Hyun-bin live from the Ministry of National Defense.