S. Korea forms task force on THAAD after president's order of green audit

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-09 17:35:14|Editor: xuxin
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SEOUL, June 9 (Xinhua) -- South Korea has formed an inter-ministry task force on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) after President Moon Jae-in ordered a green audit of the THAAD site.

Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun told a regular press briefing Friday that the Office for Government Policy Coordination formed a task force on the THAAD matter.

During the task force meeting, discussions and reviews will be conducted on the appropriate environment impact assessment, the spokesman said.

The first task force meeting was held Thursday, with vice ministers of defense, foreign affairs and environment in attendance.

Earlier this week, Moon ordered a large-scale assessment of the THAAD's environment impact on the THAAD site, a golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province.

According to the preliminary investigation result by the presidential Blue House, the defense ministry intentionally sought to avoid the large-scale green audit in a bid to speed up the THAAD installation.

Among the total land of the golf course reaching about 700,000 square meters, less than 328,779 square meters of land was provided to the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) in the first stage for the THAAD deployment.

By local law, the land provision of less than 330,000 square meters requires a small-scale green audit. The rest of the golf course was scheduled to be offered to the USFK after completing the environmental evaluation.

Meanwhile, the additional transportation of the U.S. missile shield was not reported to President Moon, according to the Blue House. Moon ordered a probe into the reporting omission.

About two weeks before the presidential by-election on May 10, two THAAD mobile launchers, radar and other equipment were transported in the middle of night to the golf course.

Four more launchers were delivered to an unidentified U.S. military base in South Korea, but it was not reported to Moon. The Blue House said it was an intentional omission of reporting to the new president.

A senior presidential official, who declined to be identified, told reporters earlier this week that the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system was not urgent enough to omit the full assessment of environmental impact.

The official said that though the already deployed THAAD elements would remain in the golf course, four THAAD launchers would be not transported to the golf course before the completion of green audit.

His comments indicated the de-facto suspension of the THAAD deployment, but residents living near the site and peace activists held a press conference to urge the government to completely retreat the U.S. weapon.

Chung Eui-yong, top national security advisor to President Moon, told reporters in Moon's office earlier in the day that the green audit should be transparently conducted in rational and legal ways.

The chief of the National Security Office of the Blue House said that the country would go through domestically necessary procedures for the THAAD deployment while making clear the procedural transparency and legitimacy.