US to sell missile defense system to Saudi Arabia

A interceptor missile is launched from a THAAD battery in this Defense Department photo.

The State Department said the US government approved the sale of its advanced Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) missile defense system to Saudi Arabia in a $15 billion deal that officials claim furthers US national security and foreign policy interests.

The sale of the system, designed to shoot down short and medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of their flight, would boost Saudi and Gulf security against Iranian and other regional threats, the Trump administration claimed.

The announcement came a day after Saudi Arabia agreed to buy air defense systems from Russia.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Co-operation Agency said the deal would not alter the military balance in the region.

Thaad systems are being deployed in South Korea to protect against a possible missile attack from North Korea, but many Koreans have objected, fearing it would become a target that endangers lives of those who live near its launch sites.

China also expressed opposition to the deployment, saying it would affect the regional security balance.

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