The U.S. military’s THAAD missile defense system in South Korea has reached an initial operating capability to defend against North Korean missiles, U.S. officials said on Monday, forging ahead with the system despite staunch objections from China. Beijing has opposed activation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), arguing the system’s radar could be used to spy into its territory, despite assurances from Washington that THAAD is purely defensive.

The United States is looking for China to use its influence with Pyongyang to rein in its advancing nuclear and missile programs, and it is unclear how Beijing will react to the development. U.S. President Donald Trump has said a “major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible, and THAAD’s activation adds another layer of complexity to escalating tensions. READ MORE