Pyongyang said the missile system, also opposed by China, was part of a joint plot between Seoul and Washington to mount a “preemptive attack on the North”, according to a statement on the official KCNA news agency attributed to the National Peace Committee of Korea.
The statement coincided with a a visit by new US Defense Secretary James Mattis to Seoul, where he pledged to deploy THAAD — the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system — to protect US and South Korean troops.
Mattis promised an “overwhelming” response to any attack mounted by North Korea.
“North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior,” Mattis said at a press conference in Seoul on Friday.
Speaking alongside South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo, he added: “Any attack on the United States or on our allies will be defeated and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that will be effective and overwhelming.”
The North Korean statement said THAAD was part of an offensive strategy between Seoul and Washington, alleging the two had “worked out a plan for a preemptive attack on the North and … desperately pushed forward it, pushing the situation on the peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.”