WASHINGTON (DOD News) -- The United States and South Korea have reached an Alliance decision to deploy a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile battery to U.S. Forces Korea to ensure the security of South Korea and protect alliance forces from North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats, according to a Defense Department news release issued on July 7.

North Korea's nuclear test and multiple ballistic missile tests, including the recent intermediate-range ballistic missile launches, highlight the grave threat that North Korea poses to the security and stability of South Korea as well as to the entire Asia-Pacific region, the release said.

THAAD provides the ballistic missile defense system with a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during the final phase of flight, according to DOD's Missile Defense Agency website.

IN RESPONSE TO NORTH KOREAN THREAT

In response to the evolving threat posed by North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea have been conducting formal consultations since early February regarding the feasibility of deploying a THAAD battery operated by U.S. Forces Korea as a measure to improve the missile defense posture of the U.S. and South Korea alliance, the release said.

Over the past months of review, a joint working group confirmed the military effectiveness of THAAD on the Korean Peninsula and is now in the final stage of preparing its recommendation for both the South Korean minister of national defense and the U.S. secretary of defense regarding the optimal site in South Korea for the system's effectiveness and for environmental, health and safety requirements, according to the release.

The U.S. and South Korea are working closely to ensure the swift deployment of the THAAD battery and will develop specific operational procedures, the release said.

When the THAAD system is deployed to the Korean Peninsula, it will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed toward any third party nations, the release said.

The THAAD deployment, the release said, will contribute to a layered missile defense that will enhance the alliance's existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.