THAAD equipment in S Korea: police and villagers clash as residents oppose deployment of the system

A Journal of People report

Police and villagers have clashed in a South Korean village as the people were resisting mobilization of the U.S. anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the village.

A Seongju, South Korea, April 26 datelined news-report by Yonhap said:

“Six trailers carrying the radar and other equipment for a U.S. THAAD missile defense battery entered the deployment site at a golf course in South Korea early Wednesday, sparking a clash between police and villagers.”

The report was headlined “THAAD equipment enters deployment site in S. Korea amid clash between police, residents”.

Media reports said:

The US military has moved equipment of the THAAD missile defense system to its deployment site in South Korea. This deployment has caused anger and discontent among the locals. Villagers in the area clashed with police guarding the convoy. The villagers are protesting deployment of THAAD, an advanced system designed to intercept short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their terminal flight phase, for months.

People in Seongju County clashed with police after US personnel moved the THAAD system onto a golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

Clashes erupted as six trailers carrying the radar and other hardware equipment for the system entered the installation site at the golf course early Wednesday.

Clashes began as police tried to stop some 200 residents at the entrance to the golf course. Police had to mobilize additional forces to control some 8,000 people in the area and the traffic on the 905 provincial roads leading to the Seongju Golf Course.

Local activists have been very vocal about the deployment of the US system, saying the presence of THAAD would make them a prime target for North Korea. The protesters also said the system poses health and environmental problems.

As police tried to control the crowd, the US military moved all of the car-mounted mobile launchers, radars, interceptor missiles, and combat control stations that have arrived in South Korea in March.

The protest continues despite a heavy police presence at the entrance of the golf course.

The spokesman for the front runner in South Korea’s May 9 presidential election, Moon Jae-in, called the THAAD deployment “very inappropriate” as it strips the next government of the right to make a policy decision on the matter.

All the available equipment has already been moved to the installation site. South Korea’s ministry of national defense has already confirmed the start of the full-scale deployment. The Ministry added that the US and Korean militaries will conduct an environmental assessment and construct relevant facilities at the golf site.

Last July, Seoul and Washington agreed to install the THAAD system as a “necessary measure” to thwart North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

Beijing has repeatedly spoken out against THAAD over fears that it will undermine its own deterrence capabilities, and previously urged Seoul and Washington to reconsider their plans.

Russia has also voiced concern over the effectiveness of THAAD’s deployment in South Korea, urging those involved to consider the inevitable escalation of tensions it will cause.

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