US moves THAAD anti-missile to South Korean site, resulting protests

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North Korea denounced the US actions.

The US and ally South Korea say its deployment, agreed a year ago, is meant to guard against missile threats from the nuclear-armed North. On the same day, a US guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it would be sending the USS Vinson, an aircraft carrier, to the Korean Peninsula, after U.S. officials said they anticipated a fresh round of nuclear tests and missile launches.

The moves to set up THAAD within this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China, the country the Trump administration hopes to work with to rid the North of nuclear weapons.

Japan's envoy on North Korea, Kenji Kanasugi, said after talks with his United States and South Korean counterparts that they agreed China should take a concrete role to resolve the crisis and it could use an oil embargo as a tool to press the North.

The United States began moving the first elements of the advanced missile defense system into South Korea in early March after the North test-launched four ballistic missiles.

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About 8,000 police officers were mobilized, and the main road leading up to the site in the country's southeast was blocked earlier Wednesday, Yonhap reported. About 200 residents and protesters rallied against THAAD in front of a local community center, with some hurling plastic water bottles.

More than 10 protesters were injured during clashes with police and some of them had bone fractures, Kim Jong-kyung, co-head of a group of villagers protesting the THAAD deployment, told Reuters.

Instead, "signs are detected that North Korea's military is conducting a large-scale drill around the eastern port city of Wonsan", according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, citing a government source.

North Korea's official media reported Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Un personally observed the exercises, which involved the firing of more than 300 large-caliber artillery pieces and included submarine torpedo-attacks on mock enemy warships.

US President Donald Trump indicated that he is willing to ramp up US military pressure on North Korea. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spoke to Mr. Trump Monday, is urging restraint from both Pyongyang and Washington.

In Washington, top Trump administration officials are due to brief the entire U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

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The U.S. and South Korean militaries have been reluctant to publicly discuss the progress of the deployment as candidates in a May 9 presidential election debated whether the move should go ahead or be delayed until after the vote.Television footage showed military trailers carrying large units including what appeared to be launch canisters being driven into the planned THAAD battery site, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of Seoul.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced confidence that Mr. Trump won't allow North Korea to reach that point.

In this Monday, April 24, 2017 photo released by the U.S. Navy, the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan is greeted as it arrives in Busan, South Korea, for a scheduled port visit while conducting routine patrols throughout the western Pacific.

The U.S. Navy says aircraft from a carrier strike group headed for the Korean Peninsula are conducting a joint exercise with Japan's Air Self Defense Forces in waters south of Japan.

"With the United States and others talking far too loosely about the prospects of a pre-emptive strike, that's what would trigger retaliatory actions by North Korea", Pollack tells CBS News.

In an interview with Fox News, Graham also said that Trump "doesn't want a war any more than I do, but he's not going to let them get a missile".

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats are expected to conduct the briefing.

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