S. Korea to change site for THAAD battery

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 30, 2016
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South Korea on Friday announced a site change for a U.S. missile shield, which Seoul and Washington had agreed to deploy in southeastern South Korea by the end of next year, amid strong oppositions from people living in the originally designated site.

Seoul's Defense Ministry originally planned to announce the changed site in the afternoon after explaining it to residents concerned and lawmakers at about 2 p.m. local time (0500 GMT), but the explanations were brought forward on requests from the residents, according to local media reports.

Military authorities of South Korea and the United States jointly announced their agreement in July to deploy one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery at a missile emplacement in Seongju county in North Gyeongsang province.

Seongju residents aroused the bitterest opposition to the closed-door decision without any prior notice and explanation, demanding a re-examination of where the super microwave-emitting radar is sited.

One THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, a fire control unit and an X-band radar, which is known to emit microwaves detrimental to human bodies and environment.

On Aug. 4, President Park Geun-hye said she would reconsider the THAAD site, and Defense Minister Han Min-koo visited the Seongju county on Aug. 17, saying that if residents formally call for a re-designation within the county, the ministry will re-consider where the U.S. missile defense system is sited.

A golf course within the county was designated as a new site for THAAD, which is away from the originally designated site but is closer to the southeastern city of Gimcheon with a population of about 140,000.

Gimcheon residents, enraged at media reports estimating that the golf course would be designated as a new site, had rallied against the deployment.

They formed a Gimcheon committee for THAAD opposition, claiming that the site change would represent the negligence of Gimcheon citizens as the alteration came from strong oppositions by Seongju residents.

The committee has said that unless the THAAD battery causes any damage to people and environment as the defense ministry insists, there would be no reason for change in the deployment site.

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