September 07, 2017 11:01
The remaining four launchers of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. were set up in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province early Thursday morning after a five-month delay.
That completes the deployment of a full set of six launchers and a radar system announced in July last year.
Police forcibly dispersed local resident and activists who had gathered to block the access road to the site in the small hours. Dozens suffered minor injuries in their struggle with the police and were treated in hospital, according to the police.
The Defense Ministry on Wednesday said, "After consultations with Washington, the additional THAAD launchers will be installed on a temporary basis together with other construction equipment and materials."
The four launchers, support vehicles and construction equipment started rolling by overland route from Camp Carroll in Waegwan, North Gyeongsang Province at dead of night.
Two launchers and a radar system were already installed in April before the process ground to a halt.
The government insists that the deployment is "temporary" pending a full procedural review because the decision was rushed through in the dying days of the disgraced Park Geun-hye administration.
President Moon Jae-in speeded up the full deployment despite an ongoing environmental review after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 28.
A THAAD battery is composed of six launchers, more than 48 interceptor missiles, a powerful X-band radar, and a control center.
Each interceptor missile can destroy an incoming missile flying at the speed of up to Mach 14 to 15 at an altitude of 40 to 150 km. The battery is capable of intercepting most North Korean missiles, except ICBMs.
Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, the commander of the Eighth U.S. Army, said in July, "Over 10 million [South Korean] citizens are protected because of the location that was selected that optimizes the capabilities of the THAAD." The battery can also protect vital facilities in the southern area, including ports and airports, he added.
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