Sunday, 25 June, 2017

South Korea: 'Environmental assessment' delays THAAD deployment

Darrell Mcdonald | 08 June, 2017, 05:52

"The deployment of American missile defense system THAAD may be delayed for a year", the message reads.

A long-running missile defense saga in South Korea took a new twist on Wednesday, as Seoul's presidential office put on hold plans to complete the deployment of America's THAAD system.

But its planned deployment has not only infuriated Beijing, which fears the encroachment of THAAD's powerful surveillance system on its territory, but it has bitterly divided South Korean public opinion.

There is "no need to withdraw" the two launchers that have already been deployed, a senior official at the South's presidential office told reporters.

The South's military cited a confidentiality agreement with the United States military as a reason to hide the critical information from the South's new commander-in-chief, according to a probe into senior army officials.

Kim Jong Un's regime fired four anti-ship cruise missiles, according to a USA defense official.

Four more launchers arrived recently in the South and are now being stored at a United States army base in the country, which plays host to some 28,500 U.S. troops as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Missile experts say North Korea could soon test its first ICBM, but believe it will take until at least 2020 before it is capable of fielding an operational nuclear-tipped ICBM.

The North regularly threatens to destroy the United States and says its missile and nuclear programmes are needed to counter USA aggression. Moon was elected after a corruption scandal engulfed conservative former President Park Geun-hye, whose government had approved the decision.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch came from the North Korean eastern coastal town of Wonsan, and that the projectiles likely flew about 200 kilometers (about 125 miles). During the election campaign, he said he would review a system that has enraged not only North Korea but also China, South Korea's largest trading partner.

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