SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — The South Korean government on Thursday postponed a formal environmental survey on the the advanced U.S. missile defense system deployed in a southern town due to a fierce protest by local residents and activists.
The defense and environment ministries had planned to conduct the joint study of electromagnetic radiation and noise from the THAAD system in Seongju, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
Two rocket launchers and a powerful X-band radar are operational at the new U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) base, formerly a private golf course.
A “small-scale” environmental impact assessment has been under way there since December under the South’s law. The government has decided to conduct an additional environmental evaluation, a process that will take several more months, before consulting with the USFK on turning the “tentative” THAAD deployment to a permanent basis.
“We have decided to put it off in consideration of various on-site conditions,” Army Col. Lee jin-woo, deputy spokesman for the defense ministry, said at a press briefing. “We have concluded that additional cooperation is required from local residents and civic groups.”
Residents in Seongju have called for the government to reconsider the THAAD deployment in the area. They claim the previous administration of Park Geun-hye pressed with the deployment without proper and transparent procedures.
Their collective action to thwart the environmental survey was widely expected.
Related government officials and reporters sought to enter the THAAD site by military helicopter but the plan was aborted amid bad weather.