Cheong Wa Dae says will freeze deployment of THAAD

"We won't do anything to (the two launchers) already deployed, but when it comes to the additional deployment (of four launchers), we have to wait for the environmental impact assessment", said a senior Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters.

The measure is in addition to the ministry's small and informal environmental assessment that's due for completion this month.

The move came one day after President Moon Jae-in personally ordered a thorough study on the environmental impact of the advanced missile shield, which, when fully deployed, will consist of at least six rocket launchers with 48 rockets created to intercept aerial threats flying over the peninsula.

Two missile launchers have been deployed in the southern county of Seongju, where hundreds of residents have staged fierce protests over what they see as potential environmental hazards posed by the batteries used in the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

The presidential office said a full-scale environmental impact assessment on the THAAD battery site in Seong-ju, North Gyengsang Province, is required by local rules.

Moon ordered an investigation into the "intentional" omission of report to him about the deployment of four THAAD mobile launchers at an unidentified USA military base in South Korea, Xinhua news agency reported.

A ministry official said Tuesday that Wee was transferred to the position a day earlier.

A "full-blown" environmental study could take up to one year.

"The order to conduct an environmental impact assessment is a guideline to enhance the procedural legitimacy of the deployment, so the defense ministry will review ways to conduct such a study", Defense Minister Han Min-koo has said.

According to the presidential Blue House, its preliminary investigation results showed the Defense Ministry offered 328,799 square meters of the golf course to the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) in the first stage of land provision.

According to Yonhap, a presidential probe concluded that the ministry had minimized the impact of THAAD's deployment in a bid to have the missiles rolled out more quickly.

The deployment of THAAD has generated some controversy in South Korea.

  • Leroy Wright