SEOUL • The deployment of four more Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) launchers in South Korea may begin as early as next week, local media, citing unnamed South Korean and United States military sources, said yesterday.
The launchers would be temporarily deployed at Seongju, in North Gyeongsang province.
There are two launchers and a powerful radar system already deployed and in operation in Seongju, but the new Moon Jae In administration had suspended further roll-out, citing the need for a thorough environmental impact survey. A typical Thaad battery consists of six launchers and a radar system. But following North Korea's ballistic missile in late July, President Moon ordered the relevant government bodies to begin the process of deploying the four additional launchers on a temporary basis.
Once the environmental assessment is over, early results of which suggested that the launchers have no significant impact, the ministry and US forces are likely to begin the deployment process.
The news comes as North Korean provocations reached a new high with the ballistic missile that flew over Japan's airspace on Tuesday while it was being tested.
Defence Minister Song Young Moo's letter to residents in Seongju asking for their understanding has also been interpreted as a sign that the deployment of the additional launchers is imminent. The South Korean defence chief is currently in the US where he met his American counterpart James Mattis for talks.
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK