Military vehicles transport missiles to the site of the THAAD base in the town of Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province. (Yonhap)
South Korea and the United States are not considering the deployment of an additional THAAD anti-missile system here, Seoul's defense ministry said Monday amid a heated debate on the issue rekindled ahead of the March 9 presidential election.
Boo Seung-chan, the ministry spokesperson, made the remarks, following a media report that a government-commissioned research in 2015 noted the need for South Korea's military to acquire its own THAAD battery separately from the one currently run by the US Forces Korea (USFK).
"Regarding the issue about the introduction of an additional THAAD unit, South Korea and the US have not been planning any additional deployment nor have they been considering it," Boo told a regular press briefing.
Boo pointed out that South Korea's military has been developing its own interception system, called L-SAM (Long-range Surface-to-Air Missile), to establish a multilayered, low-tier missile defense system.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system has emerged as a hot-button issue in the election season as Yoon Suk-yeol, the presidential candidate of the conservative main opposition People Power Party, pledged last month to push for an "additional THAAD deployment" following a series of North Korean missile tests.
Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, has cautioned against an additional THAAD deployment, warning it could trigger pushback from China, South Korea's largest trading partner. (Yonhap)