South Korea Orders Probe into Extra, Undisclosed US THAAD Missile Launchers

South Korean protesters hold placards during a rally against the deployment of the so-called US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system near the US embassy in Seoul on April 28, 2017.

The Trump administration antagonized some Korean voters about two weeks before the May 9 election, after President Trump said that South Korea should pay $1 billion for the THAAD deployment.

Moon had ordered an investigation into "how the launchers were brought here, who decided on it, why the ministry kept it secret and why it did not report the fact to the new government", Yoon added.


The Pentagon claimed it has been upfront in its dealings with South Korea, after the country's newly-elected president said that a U.S. missile defense system is being partially-deployed in secrecy.

The left-leaning Moon, who took office this month following the ousting of impeached president Park Geun-Hye, has previously expressed ambivalence over THAAD.

A ministry official denied the accusations, saying Wee Seung-ho, deputy minister for policy, had briefed Moon's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong on the issue Friday. "The president wants to renew dialogue and exchanges for denuclearization and peace in the peninsula which is in tune with China's initiative on North Korea", he said.


Both the Defense Ministry and the Blue House said they couldn't immediately confirm the report.

A THAAD battery consists of six truck-mounted launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptor missiles, fire control and communication equipment, and a powerful X-band radar officially known as AN/TPY-2. The THAAD system was installed in the southeastern town of Seongju.

Supporters of THAAD believe the system offers extra protection against threats from North Korea, which has carried out at least nine ballistic missile tests this year. Even as such a grave threat looms, though, the political and defense establishments in South Korea and the US seem unable to get on the same page. Still, Moon's comments are likely to reinforce a narrative that was already getting some play in South Korea: that the U.S.is excluding Seoul from the decision-making process on North Korea, rushing THAAD into place over the public's vociferous objections.


Mr Abe told Mr Moon that dialogue for dialogue's sake with North Korea would be meaningless, and that China's role in exerting pressure on the North was important.


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