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Time to take a stand

June 15,2017
An absurd situation is taking place as North Korea spies on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) anti-ballistic missile system’s deployment site via an unmanned aerial vehicle and China is demanding an opportunity to rummage through the site.
China and North Korea are beginning in earnest their attempts to observe the Thaad battery, installed at a golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang.

A North Korean drone was discovered in the vicinity of Inje, Gangwon, on June 9. North Korea was able to penetrate with an unmanned drone into the Thaad battery site at Seongju, 270 kilometers (167 miles) away from the armistice line. The unmanned drone, carrying a camera, was discovered with 10 airborne photographs of the Thaad site.

China also recently requested the South Korean government allow an inspection on their part. The Blue House denied this saying, “We have not received any such request.”

However, Chinese experts who participated at an academic conference also demanded repeatedly for the opportunity to inspect the Thaad site.

It is pitiful for the central government and the military to take such a naive attitude even though North Korean drones penetrated into South Korean territory and China tried to encroach on our sovereignty.

The extraordinary interest North Korea and China have as they criticize South Korea for the Thaad deployment is because of the Thaad’s anti-missile defense capabilities.

The Thaad battery at Seongju has the capability to take down most North Korean ballistic missiles mid-flight. Even if North Korea launched ballistic missiles, the idea is that many will be rendered useless. China also shares the same sentiments with North Korea.

Although China says it opposes the deployment of Thaad battery in South Korea because the Thaad’s X-band radar is able to spy on Chinese ballistic missile units, this is far from the reality. Seongju’s Thaad radar detection range is 600 to 800 kilometers and will have difficulty spying on Chinese ballistic missile units.

China’s primary concern is, in truth, that Thaad can intercept ballistic missiles China fires over the Korean Peninsula. China’s Dong-Feng 15 has a range of 700 kilometers.

In order to display their leverage over the Korean Peninsula, China has DF-15 missiles in place near Mount Paektu.

Therefore the issue is handicapping the Thaad’s most important capabilities of anti-missile defense and the central government carping on the placement of the Thaad. The central government should stop delaying Thaad’s deployment through the environmental assessment, which seems undue, and take a clear stance.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 15, Page 30