South Korea grants land for THAAD deployment to U.S. military

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea grants land for THAAD deployment to U.S. military
Thousands gather in Seongju, South Korea, on April 8 to protest the government's decision to allow the U.S. to deploy THAAD, a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery in their town. Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI

April 20 (UPI) -- South Korea has delivered up the land where the U.S. missile defense system THAAD is to be deployed on a golf course that belongs to the conglomerate Lotte.

Seoul's defense ministry said Thursday the "government today granted about 300,000 square meters of land, in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, to U.S. Forces Korea," local news service MoneyToday reported.


The announcement comes at a time when China remains uneasy about THAAD deployment and Beijing's military is reportedly building a new missile defense unit against THAAD.

China has been vocal about its opposition to THAAD and has claimed the system's powerful X-Band radar could be used to monitor its military.

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A joint U.S.-South Korea task force has completed details of the transfer, according to Seoul's foreign ministry, and Seoul's military is to conduct another round of environmental assessments.

The inspection will take about 30 days, local newspaper Korea Times reported.

Most of the equipment for THAAD has been transferred to the site, but White House officials who accompanied U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on his recent trip to Seoul said the new president of South Korea should decide what to do next, according to the report.

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Seoul is in the hands of a caretaker government following the impeachment and imprisonment of former President Park Geun-hye.

China's response has so far been mostly limited to verbal condemnations and sanctions on select South Korean business activities.

But according to the People's Liberation Army Daily and Hong Kong's Oriental Daily, Beijing is setting out to do more by creating a new missile unit against THAAD.

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The unit will retain short and midrange missiles, including China's next-generation ballistic missile, the Dongfeng-16, according to the reports.

The missile can reach a distance of more than 600 miles and can potentially hit targets in Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Oriental Daily reported there is a high possibility the surface-to-air missile Hongqi-19 is to be deployed with the new missile unit because it can deter THAAD projectiles.

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