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New probe ordered into unreported THAAD deployment

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-06 07:12

SEOUL - Moon Jae-in, president of the Republic of Korea, on Monday ordered an additional probe into the unreported deployment of four more mobile launchers of the US missile shield to the country.

Senior presidential press secretary Yoon Young-chan said that Moon ordered his senior secretary for civil affairs to look further into any suspicions over the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area 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 US military base in the country.

During the regular meeting earlier in the day with his senior secretaries, Moon was briefed by the civil affairs secretary on the 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 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 US military base in the ROK were written, but Wi instructed Defense Ministry officials to omit them in the final version.

Ambiguous document

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 Moon, intending to make the presidential office not recognize the further deployments, Yoon said.

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

Seoul and Washington decided in July to deploy one THAAD battery in southeast ROK. The site was moved in September to the golf course at a small village where less than 200 elderly farmers live.

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.


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