World / Asia-Pacific

Citizens, politicians, media in S. Korea raise voices against THAAD deployment

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-29 16:29

SEOUL - South Korean citizens, politicians and news organizations are raising a dissenting voice over the decision between Seoul and Washington to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in their homeland.

Villagers living in the site where one THAAD battery is scheduled to be installed by the end of next year continue their protest against the US missile defense system, while civic group activists and student groups who advocate peace and stability rally against the US weapons program.

Opposition lawmakers call for the retraction of the THAAD deployment decision, and in several TV programs, panelists are divided over pros and cons of the installation, which reflects the nationwide split between people over the untested, environmentally hazardous US anti-missile system.

Park Wan-joo, first vice floor leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party, told a party meeting on Thursday that the THAAD deployment raised risks of easing isolation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), asking to form a special parliamentary committee to discuss countermeasures against possible negative effects.

Following the DPRK's fourth nuclear test in January and its launch in February of a long-range rocket, which was condemned as a disguised test of ballistic missile technology, the international community adopted tougher-than-ever UN Security Council resolutions.

The agreed-upon THAAD installation raised concerns here about difficulties that South Korea could face in winning cooperation from China and Russia to achieve the goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. China and Russia have expressed strong oppositions to the deployment as it breaks regional strategic balance and damages security interests of the neighbors.

THAAD's X-band radar can spot Chinese and Russian territories as the forward-based mode radar has a detectable range of at least 2,000 km. Seoul has claimed that it would introduce a terminal mode radar with a coverage of 600-800 km, but it can converted at any time into the forward-based mode as the two use the same hardware.

The modified version even doesn't need any conversion, according to a local media report. Local newspaper Hankyoreh reported that the AN/TPY-2 radar can range 3,000-4,000 km, citing Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) emeritus professor Theodore Postol. It confirmed Chinese and Russian worries about the damaging of security interests.

Moon Jae-in, former Minjoo Party leader and presidential candidate during the 2012 presidential election, said in his Facebook account that the THAAD deployment would cause more losses than gains and that the Park Geun-hye government's adherence to the US anti-missile system endangered international coordination in resolving the peninsula's nuclear issue.

Minority political parties more strongly express their objections to THAAD, while liberal activists and peace advocates voiced dissents almost every day from different places nationwide. Panelists appear in TV discussion programs, raising awareness among ordinary people over why THAAD is useless for the protection of South Korean people.

Public opinion is changing into more objections to the THAAD deployment. According to a survey of 1,000 adults conducted by local newspaper Media Today between July 21 and 22, 53.1 percent demanded re-negotiation of the deployment decision. Calls for the installation as planned took up 42.6 percent of the respondents.

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