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Defense ministry to quicken THAAD deployment amid post-impeachment row

South Korea is moving to hasten the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system and finish its installation by May at the latest in the face of political uncertainty caused by the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, government sources said Sunday. 

"The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system seemingly doesn't require much (preparatory) time, since the Seongju golf course is already equipped with power and water supply facilities, and a traffic system," said an official of the Ministry of National Defense, on condition of anonymity.

The move is seen as an effort to cope with uncertainties, as opposition parties are opposed to the deployment of THAAD. If the Constitutional Court endorses the impeachment, the next presidential election must be held within 60 days by law. 

Earlier in November, the ministry vowed to secure the Lotte Skyhill Country Club in the southeastern rural county of Seongju as the site of THAAD. In exchange, the ministry is pushing to grant state-owned military land near Seoul to Lotte Group, the golf course's former owner. The ministry expects to seal the exchange deal in January 2016, hoping to finish constructing the facility within six months.

A United States Forces Korea official earlier said the deployment of THAAD will be completed by the end of June next year.

A Defense Ministry office said it will consider skipping an environmental impact study to speed up the process.

Rep. Kim Dong-cheol, the new interim leader of the minor opposition People's Party, said last Friday that sensitive and important security issues, such as THAAD and a military information exchange accord with Japan, should be reviewed by the government of next president on the basis of national consensus. (Yonhap)