In media interview, Moon apparently seeking to stress importance of environmental impact assessment ahead of US summit
North Gyeongsang Province.
President Moon Jae-in said in a June 22 interview with Reuters that the initial South Korea-US agreement on the THAAD deployment had only one of six launchers in the battery to be deployed this year, with the remaining five to be deployed in 2018.
By Moon’s account, the deployment process was accelerated for unclear reasons as presidential predecessor Park Geun-hye (2013-16) was facing impeachment in 2016.
Moon’s remarks appeared aimed at underscoring the highly incomplete and non-transparent nature of the general process from the agreement to the equipment’s delivery and deployment. In addition to the deployment completion date for a single THAAD battery being moved up to 2017 from the originally agreed-upon 2018, the number of launchers deployed increased from one to two, with no explanation offered on the process or reasons from the relevant authorities on either side, Moon claimed.
THAAD missile defense system components already deployed at the golf course site in Seongju County
But given that the initial schedule was changed as Park was facing imminent impeachment, Moon’s remarks hint at suspicions that the reason for the sudden procedural change stemmed from the deployment decision makers’ concerns that the election of an opposition candidate opposing the deployment could result in it being canceled or rescheduled.
Moon’s decision to reveal the details to the foreign media ahead of the South Korea-US summit was seen as intended to stress that the environmental impact assessment he ordered for the THAAD site was an unavoidable measure to guarantee the deployment’s procedural legitimacy and transparency. Along similar lines, Moon also declared, “What I wish to say is that the new administration’s announcement of the obviously necessary environmental impact assessment procedures was a clear decision given public opinion in South Korea.”
By Lee Se-young, staff reporter
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