SKorea mired in feud sealed with blood

President Park intervenes in dispute between government and residents over an incoming missile defense system

SKorea mired in feud sealed with blood

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Korean President Park Geun-hye described as "needless" Thursday an ongoing clash over the location of a contentious American missile defense system.

Her remarks came a day after a local official led a petition signed in blood opposing the planned deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) in Seongju, nearly 300 kilometers (186 miles) southeast of the capital.

Earlier Wednesday, Seoul's defense ministry had named Seongju as the ideal site for a THAAD battery.

The location would offer protection to potential targets of North Korea, like southern nuclear power plants and the United States’ military bases, while the Seoul and inter-Korean border areas would be defended by Patriot missile interceptors better suited to dealing with a close-range attack.

But thousands of angry residents rallied following the announcement, accusing the government of failing to be transparent in its choice.

Having signed a petition with his own blood, Seongju County chief Kim Hang-gon led a group of protesters to the defense ministry -- where officials attempted to allay concerns about health and environmental risks posed by THAAD's powerful radar.

The president's own response was to convene a National Security Council session, during which she insisted that residents must understand that "THAAD would cause no health problems and pose no dangers to the agricultural products produced in the region."

Park instead pointed to the very real threat posed by North Korea's development of ballistic missiles.

In comments reported by local news agency Yonhap, she explained that full transparency was not possible for security reasons but that the "well-being of the entire nation and the safety of citizens are at stake."

Another factor highlighted by local analysts is the longer distance from Seongju to China compared with other candidate sites -- perhaps alleviating worries that the U.S. might use THAAD to spy on Beijing's military activities.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Temmuz 2016, 12:48