SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Korea Bizwire) – A Seoul court ruled Friday that a series of documents jointly drawn up with the United States for the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense battery should remain confidential, as their disclosure would harm national interests.
The Seoul Administrative Court delivered the verdict, rejecting a demand from the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, or Minbyun, that the government make public classified documents related to THAAD, such as a site survey report and the outcome of task force discussions between the two countries.
“There is a concern that should the information the plaintiff requested be disclosed, it could harm grave national interests,” the court said in the ruling, adding that THAAD is aimed at improving the country’s missile defense in the face of North Korean nuclear and missile threats.
The court also said that the U.S. and South Korea formed the task force to discuss the issue on condition that their discussions remain confidential and that members of the team signed a confidentiality agreement.
“The information requested by the plaintiff is classified as second-degree secret and includes the detailed scope and capability of THAAD, as well as simulation analysis of candidate sites and the outcome of site surveys,” the court said.
“If this is disclosed, North Korea or a third country could obtain the defense scope and capability of THAAD, as well as information on deployment status, and could use the information to evade THAAD’s missile defense capabilities,” it said.
The court also said that the South’s unilateral disclosure of such information could have negative effects on the alliance with the U.S. and impair trust between the two countries.