THAAD Reaches Initial Operational Capability in South Korea

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On May 1, 2017, U.S. officials declared that the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea has reached initial operational capability. According to Col. Robert Manning III, a spokesman for the United States Forces Korea, the system “is operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles.” The South Korean Defense Ministry echoed Manning’s assessment, saying that the battery “has acquired an initial capability to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat.” Although the system has been deemed capable, officials clarify that it has only reached initial capability, and will not be fully operational for several months. The announcement of initial capability comes two days after North Korea conducted its most recent test of its new KN-17 missile, marking the third test of the missile in the past month.