S. Korean president orders additional probe into unreported THAAD launchers deployment

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-05 16:54:48|Editor: MJ
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SEOUL, June 5 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered an additional probe into the unreported deployment of four more mobile launchers of the U.S. missile shield to the country.

Senior presidential press secretary Yoon Young-chan told a press briefing that President Moon ordered his senior secretary for civil affairs to look further into any suspicions over the installation of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area (THAAD) missile interception system.

Moon ordered an initial investigation last week into the "intentional" omission of report to the new leader about the deployment of four THAAD mobile launchers to an unidentified U.S. military base in South Korea.

During the regular meeting earlier in the day between Moon and his senior secretaries, Moon was briefed by the civil affairs secretary on the investigation findings.

The findings showed Wi Seung-ho, chief of the defense ministry's national defense policy office, ordered officials to omit the deployment of four more THAAD launchers from a document to the presidential Blue House.

The defense ministry reported to the state affairs planning advisory panel, which acted as a transition committee, on May 25 and to the National Security Office of the Blue House the following day, but the additional installation was omitted from the documents.

In the preliminary documents, the additional deployments to the unnamed U.S. military base in South Korea were written, but Wi instructed defense ministry officials to omit them in the final version.

The Blue House informed the U.S. side of the investigation results earlier in the day. In response, the U.S. side said it can understand the South Korean position.

Wi will be excluded from relevant defense affairs, while other relevant defense ministry officials will be subject to further investigations, according to the Blue House.

The defense ministry failed to provide additional explanations for the ambiguous document, which was submitted to President Moon, intending to make the presidential office not recognize the further deployments, Yoon said.

The agreement between the United States and South Korea not to make it public to people cannot indicate no report to President Moon, the senior press secretary told reporters.

Moon ordered a separate investigation into the defense ministry suspected of trying to avoid the environmental assessment on the U.S. missile defense system at a golf course in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province.

Circumstantial evidences were detected for the defense ministry to seek to shun the assessment on what impact the THAAD would have on people living near the deployment site, Yoon said.

Seoul and Washington decided in July last year to deploy one THAAD battery in southeast South Korea. The site was altered in September into the golf course at a small village where less than 200 farmers, mostly in their 70s and older, live a peaceful life.

About two weeks before the presidential by-election on May 9, two mobile launchers, the radar and other heavy equipments were transported in the middle of night to the golf course.

The hurried installation boosted speculation that it aimed to politicize security issues during the sensitive election campaign period. Security issues tended to benefit conservative candidates in the past.

The installation of four more mobile launchers had never been made public nor reported to Moon, who also serves as top military commander.

One THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, the AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire and control unit.