US and South Korean military officials said Friday that they are ready to deploy an advanced US missile defense system in South Korea aimed at countering North Korean threats.
The announcement raised strong objections from China and, Russia.
"China expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute objection to this," the China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website. "Refrain from taking actions that complicate the region's situation and do not do things that harm China's strategic security interests."
The US-South Korean missile shield deployment "most negatively affect global strategic stability" and would have "irreparable consequences," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Talks over the plan to install a unit of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the peninsula started after the North's long-range missile test in February, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.
After a string of failures, North Korea successfully fired a new mid-range ballistic missile more than 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) high.
Analysts said the high-altitude flight of the Musudan missile meant that North Korea had made progress in its push to be able to strike US forces throughout the region. And the the Musudan's potential 3,500-kilometer (2,180-mile) range puts much of Asia and the Pacific - including Japan - within reach.
The THAAD system intercepts missiles in their terminal phase, as they move downwards towards their target, not when they are climbing.
China strongly objects
China is worried that the THAAD system is aimed at its own missile capability and warned that its deployment would trigger a regional arms race.
Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated Beijing's worries in March when he met with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Washington.
The first THAAD test flight took place in 2005, according to its US-based developer Lockheed Martin. The first operational deployment was in the US island territory of Guam in 2013, and there are currently five THAAD batteries worldwide, including in the United Arab Emirates.
South Korean press reports put the cost of operating one of the THAAD systems at 1.44 billion euros ($1.6 billion) .
North Korea has already been sanctioned because of its nuclear weapons program. The United States currently has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.
China fought alongside North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War, while American-led UN troops fought alongside South Korea in a conflict that has since gone cold but remains unresolved.
jar/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)