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Seoul seeks to debunk rumors about THAAD

All News 18:54 July 15, 2016

By Choi Kyong-ae

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government has released detailed explanations debunking dozens of unfounded rumors surrounding the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. antimissile system that Seoul says is needed to counter growing military threats from North Korea.

The move is seen as part of the government's extended efforts to push ahead with its plan to introduce the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in Korea by the end of 2017, amid public fears about possible health problems caused by electromagnetic waves from the system's radar.

In a statement released late Friday, the Ministry of National Defense dismissed several rumors circulating among people, particularly residents of Seongju, which has been selected as the site to house the country's first THAAD battery. The county lies 296 kilometers south of Seoul and already hosts a South Korean Air Force antiaircraft missile battery.

In regards to the main worry that the THAAD's AN/TPY-2 radar could pose serious health risks, the ministry pointed out that the system has a much smaller minimum safe distance of 100 meters, compared to 120 m and 530 m, respectively, for the existing Patriot PAC-2 and Green Pine antenna arrays.

"Electromagnetic waves measured within the safe distance (of 120 m and 150 m each for Patriot and Green Pine radars) were far lower than the country's allowed maximum level of radar waves of 10 watts per square meter. It clearly indicates that THAAD's radar waves won't pose any serious health problems," the statement said.

It also refuted the possibility of the disappearance of honeybees and mutations in animals and crops, including the oriental melon for which Seongju is famous.

As for speculations that the operation of a THAAD battery could cause noise and water pollution in adjacent towns, the ministry said the THAAD system will get its power from the commercial grid, and the generator, which does make noise, will only be used in case of emergency.

Wastewater used by soldiers inside the THAAD unit will be treated under the U.S. government's strict guidelines as is the case with other U.S. military bases in Korea, the ministry said.

On the non-health fronts, the ministry flatly denied speculation that the THAAD could be used to attack China or will force Seoul to bear a greater financial burden for maintaining the system that could push the country to become part of Washington's controversial multilayered missile defense (MD) system.

"THAAD will only be used for self-defense purposes, Korea's financial burden for U.S. forces in Korea won't rise because of the missile system, and South Korea is already building up its own Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system," it said. It pointed out that with KAMD, there will be no need for the country to join the larger MD endeavor.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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