South Korea deploys U.S. anti-missile launchers amid protests
South Korea deployed four remaining U.S. anti-missile THAAD system launchers on Thursday designed to protect against mounting threats from North Korea while protesters clashed with thousands of police in Seongju City, the deployment site.
The defence ministry confirmed on Wednesday the launchers would be installed on a former golf course near Seongju City some 217 km south of Seoul. Two launchers and a powerful radar are already in place at the site as part of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system.
Early on Monday around 8,000 South Korean police gathered in the village of Soseong-ri, along the only road that leads up to the golf course, to break up a blockade of around 300 villagers and civic groups opposed to THAAD.
The decision to deploy THAAD, designed to shoot down short- to medium-range missiles mid-flight, has drawn strong objections from China. It believes the system's radar could be used to look deeply into its territory and will upset the regional security balance. South Korea's defence ministry has said the deployment is necessary due to the imminent threat from North Korea, which has launched numerous missiles since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in early May. Pyongyang also conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday, prompting vehement reprimands from neighbouring Japan and the United States.