The Chinese government recently asked Seoul to allow an on-site inspection of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery the U.S. recently stationed here, a government source said Tuesday.
China opposed the deployment because it believes that its powerful radar could be used to spy on its own military maneuvers.
The source said, "The Chinese side wanted to check if the radar is capable of monitoring activities even on the Chinese mainland." Beijing is making the demands "through various channels," the source added.
The X-band radar has a "forward-based mode" capable of detecting targets 1,800 km away as well as a "terminal mode" that can track missiles 600 to 800 km away. The U.S. says it is set on terminal mode in Korea due to the short detection distances that are required for missiles from North Korea and will not be switched, but China wants to verify that.
Cheong Wa Dae is in a dilemma. One official said, "It's an excessive demand, but we can't simply refuse as Beijing is becoming increasingly vocal about its opposition."
National security officials at Cheong Wa Dae have discussed asking China in turn to inspect its own radars in its northern region that are used to monitor the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
Since 2011, China has been operating a powerful radar with a range of up to 5,500 km that is capable of monitoring not only the Korean Peninsula, but Okinawa, the Philippines and even Guam.