Missile against sunset

US missile system passes South Korea environmental review

Image credit: Foto 5171969 © Tebnad | Dreamstime.com

A South Korean environmental impact assessment has found "insignificant" electromagnetic radiation from the THAAD system.

The findings of the assessment have cleared the way for the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea.

THAAD is a defence system defence against short, medium and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats. It is also the only US system designed to intercept targets outside and inside the atmosphere.

South Korea first deployed THAAD in 2017. Its location in the south-eastern air base of Seongju, 214 kilometres southeast of Seoul, provoked complaints from China and local residents. Moreover, it also led to concerns that the missile system would emit radiation above safety standards.

The Yoon Suk Yeol administration has been pushing for the "normalisation" of the system for six years, but public protests regarding the system's impact on residents' health have since kept officials from operating THAAD at full capacity.

However, the review's results showed that THAAD generated a maximum level of electromagnetic radiation below 0.2 per cent of the safety standards, the ministry said.

"The latest environmental impact assessment is a preceding step for the normalisation of the Seongju base," the ministry said in a statement. "The environment ministry said it is judged that the impact of (the electromagnetic waves from the base) on human bodies and the surrounding environment is insignificant."

The study result is expected to clear the way for additional infrastructure construction for the system.

However, Sosungri Village and National Civil Society Network, a coalition of groups opposing the installation, denounced the announcement, claiming the review was hastily done, and hinted that it would continue protesting.

China has also angrily reacted to the installation, contending that the system's powerful radar could peer into its airspace.

The United States and South Korea have said THAAD is for self-defence, meant to counter North Korea's evolving threats. To date, the system has been deployed in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Romania, and South Korea.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles