South Korea's Lotte Group approved a planned land swap with the military on Monday, paving the way for the deployment of an advanced US missile defense system between May and July, the defense ministry said.
"We have received a notice from Lotte Group that the company has given the green light to the land exchange plan with the military," the Ministry of National Defense said in a text message sent to reporters.
|This bird's-eye view taken on Oct. 27, 2016, shows a golf course currently owned by Lotte Group and to be delivered this year to the military as the site for the THAAD missile defense system in Seongju, 296 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)|
The ministry plans to sign a deal with Lotte as early as Tuesday, it said.
Lotte's board of directors passed the proposal that the group provide its golf course in the southeastern rural county of Seongju in return for a state-owned military site near Seoul, the ministry said.
Lotte didn't confirm the approval due to the sensitivity of the matter. The retail conglomerate' business in China suffered from the fallout of its planned land offering, as Beijing opposes the THAAD installation in South Korea, claiming its powerful X-band radar, could spy on China's military installations.
"To avoid delays in the installation, the ministry will carry out the process of handing over Lotte's golf course to the US military for THAAD operation and designing the site for a THAAD unit at the same time," a ministry official said.
If the transfer and the design and development take place at the same time, the process can be completed as targeted, he said.
In July last year, South Korea and the US announced that they will deploy a THAAD battery here to better counter North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats. (Yonhap)