Vietnam deploys rocket launcher in S. China Sea

Aug 10, 2016, 6:39 AM EDT
South China Sea
(Source: Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet/flickr)

In a move that may further escalate the tensions in the region, Vietnam has deployed new mobile rocket launchers in its five bases in the disputed South China Sea. The state-of-the-art rocket artillery system, currently hidden from aerial surveillance, is capable of targeting China's runways and military installations across the vital trade route. Without providing any details, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as “inaccurate.”

The move is Vietnam’s response to China’s aggressive land reclamation activities in the Spratlys archipelago, writes Reuters. With Beijing establishing its runways and expanding its military presence on seven reclaimed islands, Vietnam’s defenses remain highly vulnerable in the region.

A statement issued by Beijing, denounced the “illegal” occupation of parts of China’s Spratly islands and reefs, adding that the country has indisputable sovereignty over the islands and nearby waters.   The United States, which has been monitoring the developments closely, urged all South China Sea claimants to try to resolve the dispute through dialogue and to refrain from provocative actions.

In June, Vietnam’s Deputy Defense Minister, Senior Lieutenant-General Nguyen Chi Vinh, had denied any plans to arm the country’s holdings in the Spratlys with such launchers although he added that Hanoi reserves the right to move any of its weapons within its sovereign territory, notes International Business Times