August 02, 2017 09:54
The U.S. Defense Department said Monday that it is ready to install four more Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery launchers in South Korea.
Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters in Washington, "We made an alliance decision with the [South Korean] government last year to deploy THAAD to the Korean Peninsula as a defensive measure. We have gotten that to an initial missile defense ability just within the past few months. We are certainly ready to bring additional pieces in as quickly as we can."
The U.S. brought six THAAD interceptor launchers to South Korea in March but set up only two in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province while the other four remain in storage.
"A lot of people question the need for THAAD; they question the requirement for us," Davis said. "But the North Koreans are being far better spokespeople on that than we're capable of. They're making the case for us rather effectively."
The deployment was rushed through in the dying days of the Park Geun-hye administration over ongoing local protests, and activists continue to block the roads around the former golf course where the two launchers have been set up.
President Moon Jae-in ordered a procedural review of the deployment but said after North Korea's latest missile test that the remaining four launchers can be set up before an environmental study has been completed.
A Defense Ministry official here said Tuesday, "The deployment of additional launchers will be handled through a transparent process. That entails convincing local residents and notifying them beforehand of the deployment." He added, "That means we will not deploy them by surprise in the middle of the night as the first two THAAD launchers were in Seongju in April."
A Cheong Wa Dae official said, "We will convince local residents and then deploy the THAAD launchers according to the agreement between the defense ministries of both countries."
But that could take a long time since locals continue to protest. "There is no way that the government will send in riot police to ensure the deployment," a government source said.
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