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Time for Thaad

Aug 30,2017
South Korea has completed a small-scale study on the environmental impact from the full deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang. It conducted a minimal environmental test for the “temporary” installation of four launchers after President Moon Jae-in ordered the battery system to be fully installed “temporarily” amid continuing missile provocations from North Korea.

The study showed that the radar from the missile shield emits electromagnetic waves no stronger than a smartphone. The study would challenge the critics of the antimissile system who have been opposing and stalling the deployment on procedural and environmental questions. The government has been suspected of dallying over the announcement because of protests from environmental activists.

Thaad no longer should be an issue of discomfort and conflict between Seoul and Washington at a time when North Korea, which threatened to fire missiles toward Guam, has fired a ballistic missile that flew right over Japan before landing in the Pacific to the east of Hokkaido early Tuesday.

The two allies must not allow any political factors to get in the way of fighting North Korean nuclear and missile threats. The Korean government has a duty to deploy the Thaad system as fast and completely as possible. Moon on Monday ordered the defense ministry to be fully ready in case North Korea “crosses the line” or fires artillery towards the capital region. Thaad is essential to ensure the protection of the people in the South from North Korean missiles.

Moon caused confusion with his mixed comments on Thaad. During his visit to Washington, he vowed that there would be no reversal in the decision to deploy the system while telling Chinese President Xi Jinping the following month that his government would find a way to solve the conundrum after buying time for an environmental assessment.

Seoul must make its stance clear on Thaad within the month. Seongju residents and activists are readying protests. These activists are more concerned about drills and U.S. military presence than safety and environmental concerns. The government must not risk lives and defer military operation under the sway of politically-motivated campaigns.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 29, Page 34