The U.S. has deployed four additional THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense launchers at its new Seongju military base in southern South Korea, Yonhap news agency reported Thursday citing South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND).
The deployment of the system by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) came amid clashes between police and protesters that resulted in dozens of injuries.
Local residents have protested the THAAD deployment for fear that their town may turn into a primary target for North Korean attacks. They are also concerned that electromagnetic waves emanating from the radar could cause health and environmental problems.
Clashes occurred throughout the night as some 400 residents fought police officers near their community center in Seongju.
About 10 U.S. military vehicles carrying the THAAD equipment left Osan Air Base, some 70 kilometers south of Seoul, at 0:32 a.m. Police dispersed the residents around 5 a.m., clearing the way for their entry into the base at 8:20 a.m.
The arrival of the launchers and other equipment came around 14 months after Seoul and Washington decided to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to Seongju, some 300 kilometers south of Seoul, to counter escalating North Korean threats.
Two truck-mounted launchers and a powerful X-band radar are currently in operation at the base. A THAAD battery is known to require at least six rocket launchers, also involving a fire control and communications unit.
President Moon Jae-in ordered the deployment of additional THAAD launchers soon after Pyongyang launched a second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in late July.