U.S. military forces are leveling the field while four more launchers for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile system are being moved to a base in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province in this picture taken on Thursday. [Photo by Han Joo-hyung]
South Korea`s defense ministry announced Thursday four launchers for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile system were moved to a base in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, some 300 kilometers south of Seoul, completing the posture of the U.S. missile shield that has been a cause of divide at home and diplomatic rows separately with Washington and Beijing.
A THAAD unit consists of six launchers, 48 interceptors, a fire control and communications unit and radar. Two launchers were installed in the former golf course in Seongju in April. Full battery installment was suspended at the order of President Moon Jae-in who upon taking office in May raised questions about the process in bringing in the antimissile system agreed upon by the former administration in July last year.
Moon ordered temporary full installation after a recent most powerful-yet nuclear test by North Korea.
During a joint media conference by South Korea’s defense, public administration and environment ministries, the Defense Ministry said the completed deployment is an inevitable and temporary measure to counter the North’s growing threats and the government will remain committed to conduct a full-scale environmental study to authorize the permanent deployment.
The Ministry of Environment said a summary study had found no safety problems with the radar of the THAAD system and the government will conduct an independent validation test on possible health damage from electromagnetic fields in the vicinity.
Protests from local villagers and anti-U.S. activists continued outside the base even after the deployment. They had deployed vehicles to block the road to the entry before the police towed away obstructions and cleared the protesters from the road.
China fiercely protested the full deployment, demanding Thursday that the THADD system must be removed immediately. China’s Foreign Ministry summoned Wednesday Korean Ambassador to China Kim Jang-soo to lodge a strong complaint. The Defense Ministry said the government informed China and other countries through diplomatic channels in advance about the plan to complete the deployment.
By Park Man-won and Ahn Doo-won
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