South Korean residents and peace activists on Thursday demanded the complete retreat of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interception system from their country.
Dozens of people gathered outside the government complex in central Seoul, just 1-2 km away from the presidential Blue House, to call for the new government to pave the way for the complete retreat of the U.S. missile shield.
The protesters were composed of residents living near the THAAD deployment site and civic group activists who continued to conduct anti-THAAD demonstrations together with the residents.
They told a press conference that the new government must stop all activities relevant to the THAAD deployment, urging it to open the way for the reversal of the THAAD installation by thoroughly investigating and reviewing the deployment process from the starting point.
The demonstrators held posters that read “Look thoroughly into the illegal THAAD that does no good but harm,” and “Reverse the THAAD deployment.”
The protest rally came a day after a senior Blue House official said that the already installed THAAD elements will inevitably remain though the deployment of four more mobile launchers will be halted until a green audit ends.
Around two weeks before the country’s presidential by-election on May 9, part of the THAAD elements, including radar and two mobile launchers, was transported in the middle of night to a golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province.
Local media speculations said the hurried installation, even before finishing the green audit, was apparently aimed at politicizing security issues in the sensitive election period that tended to benefit conservative candidates.
Four more THAAD launchers were delivered to an unidentified U.S. military base in South Korea, but the delivery was not reported to President Moon Jae-in who took office on May 10.
One THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, the AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire and control unit.
The preliminary investigation results by the Blue House found that a senior Defense Ministry official instructed the “intentional” omission of the four more launchers installation from the documents submitted to the Blue House.
Moon ordered a further investigation into the unreported deployment of four mobile launchers, while instructing the massive assessment of environment effect on people living near the installation site.
The unnamed Blue House official told reporters that two mobile launchers and the X-band radar, which had been already installed, would remain in the golf course.
The official, however, said that advancing the THAAD deployment would not be urgent enough to omit the green audit, indicating the suspension of the further installation until the audit ends. Enditem