The Ministry of Environment said Monday it has given conditional consent to the deployment of a US missile defense system, removing the last administrative hurdle for its full operation fiercely opposed by local residents and activists.
The ministry said it found the adverse environmental impact from deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense on the designated region of Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, to be limited, after reviewing the results of the Ministry of National Defense's survey of the site.
The defense ministry released in late July the outcome of its assessment on electromagnetic radiation and noise from THAAD at the deployment site, some 300 km southeast of Seoul, amid strong protests from county residents and activists. They said the radiation and noise detected in the area remained in a safe range.
The Daegu district agency of the environment ministry said it has notified the defense ministry of the decision.
Yet, it has set certain conditions for the deployment, including regular strengthened monitoring of the radiation exposure and providing residents with the opportunity to observe the assessment. It also called on the defense ministry to report the results to the residents and public.
Upon the environment ministry's conditional consent, the defense ministry said it will soon embark on the process to deploy the four additional THAAD launchers this week. It has already brought in two rocket launchers and a powerful X-band radar to the Seongju base, which are now operational.
Seoul and Washington agreed in July 2016 to deploy the advanced missile system on home soil as part of its deterrence strategy against evolving North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
The government has faced mounting opposition from residents and civic groups concerned about potential environmental damage.
Protesters raised doubts about the credibility of the government-led survey and demanded a reassessment by an independent body including foreign experts. (Yonhap)