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The Latest: South Korea says THAAD can defend against attack

Japan's helicopter carrier JS Izumo, foreground, sails by a U.S. supply ship, top left, at anchor in the waters off Yokosuka after the Japanese destroyer departed Yokosuka port, south of Tokyo, Monday, May 1, 2017. Japan's navy has dispatched its largest destroyer reportedly tasked with escorting U.S. military ships off the Japanese coast, a first-time mission under new security legislation that allows Japan’s military a greater role overseas, amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula. The Izumo started to escort the U.S. supply ship after the two vessels met up in the waters off the Boso Peninsula, south of Tokyo, later in the day. (Ren Onuma/Kyodo News via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on tensions on the Korean Peninsula (all times local):

11 a.m. Tuesday

An official says a contentious U.S. anti-missile system based in southeastern South Korea is operating and can defend against North Korean missiles.

Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said Tuesday the Terminal High Altitude Defense system, or THAAD, at a converted golf course in Seongju has “early capability” to respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat.

Moon did not say when Washington and Seoul expected to complete the THAAD deployment.

The deplyment has angered Seongju residents who fear North Korea might target the town and who worry about rumored health hazards from THAAD’s powerful radar.


9 p.m. Monday

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul has confirmed that the U.S. CIA director visited South Korea on Monday amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

An embassy official would not say how long Mike Pompeo would be staying in the South Korean capital. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The visit comes after North Korea conducted another missile test on Saturday, and a U.S. aircraft carrier group was in nearby waters. A Japanese destroyer left port Monday, reportedly to escort U.S. naval ships as Japan increases its military role in the region.

The Japanese destroyer Izumo, a helicopter carrier, departed from Yokosuka port south of Tokyo in the morning.

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