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Experts view missile interceptor test by the US as a threat to China

Test indicates US' preparedness for military action, as tensions in Northeast Asia increase

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

Supersonic interceptor missile

The successful test of a missile interceptor has sparked concerns in as experts said it will break the strategic balance with other nuclear powers and signals preparations for military action against nuclear-armed North Korea.

The has successfully tested a mock intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) using its own upgraded long-range interceptor warhead.

"This test is similar to actual combat because it used X-band radar to track and lock on to the target - an ICBM - by itself. In the past, the used a medium-range missile and the defence system had the data and information about the target before the test," Yang Chengjun, a senior military strategist on missile studies from the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times.

Officials said the interceptor missile travelled at 27,040 kms per hour and hit its target over the

The test came a day after North Korea tested its ninth ballistic missile this year, which travelled 450 kms before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.

Pentagon spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the test had been planned for some time and was not timed specifically as a response to North Korea. "In a broad sense, North Korea is one of the reasons why we have this capability," he said in a statement.

Yang said the test indicates it is preparing for military action as tensions in Northeast Asia increased.

However, North Korea's test only proves that it has medium-range missiles, not ICBMs, so the US' missile defence system is targeting nuclear powers like and Russia, which could launch ICBMs to strike territory, Yang said.

The interceptor has an uneven track record, having succeeded nine times out of 17 attempts against missiles in tests since 1999, although the most recent test in June 2014 was a success, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The has 26 interceptors based at Fort Greely in Alaska and four at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Last week, the Pentagon presented its 2018 budget to Congress, proposing spending $7.9 billion on missile defence, including $1.5 billion for the ground-based mid-course defence programme.

"The balance between nuclear armed countries is based on 'Mutual Assured Destruction' (MAD), and the development of missile defence systems is for the to seek absolute security. But it's actually damaging the balance and it will surely bring about an arms race among nuclear armed countries," Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of Relations said.

"also has its missile defence system, with technology very similar to the US', but the system is not as comprehensive as the system," Yang noted.

has already exercised about the deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) interceptor missiles in to ward off to counter missile threats from North Korea as its radars provide a deep look into Chinese territory, specially its missile activities.

Yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chuying told media here Beijing was seriously concerned about four additional mobile launchers of THAAD in

Four mobile launchers were brought into the in addition to two units that had been deployed as part of the THAAD system recently. Reports suggested that South Korean President Moon Jae-in had not been informed about the move.

"is seriously concerned about this event," she said.

The deployment of THAAD has gravely undermined regional strategic balance and the security interests of China, and runs counter to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, Hua said.

"firmly opposes the deployment of THAAD and strongly urges the and side to stop and cancel the act," she said.

First Published: Thu, June 01 2017. 13:53 IST
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