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S. Korea, U.S. to go all out to verify THAAD radar safety

All News 09:18 July 17, 2016

SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States will go all out to verify that the powerful radar used in the advanced anti-ballistic missile shield poses no health risks, the military said Sunday.

Last week the allies picked Seongju county in North Gyeongsang Province, as the location for the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

Seoul and Washington said the location, 296 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is an ideal spot to guard key South Korean and U.S. military installations from evolving North Korean nuclear and missile capabilities. Residents in the region, however, have risen up in protest, claiming the AN/TPY-2 radar can cause cancer, infertility and hurt their crops.

"To alleviate all concerns, an evaluation on health risks and environmental impact will be carried out during the construction of the THAAD site, as well as after the system is in place," a military source stressed.

He said talks are planned with the U.S. to ensure that regular evaluations on the environmental impact can be carried out at the 110,000-square-meter installation. The official said such a move is unprecedented and reflects the importance the government places on laying to rest public fears.

"No other military radar installation has been checked in this manner," said the insider, who declined to be identified. At present, military installations can be exempted from Seoul's environmental evaluation law because they are restricted areas.

While speaking to Seongju residents last week, Defense Minister Han Min-koo vowed that environmental tests will be carried out at the proposed missile battery site.

Another official at the defense ministry said the most respected experts in electromagnetic waves and other related fields will be invited to assess any possible risk and report their findings to the public.

He said that Seoul and Washington are expected to start talks related to examining the Status of Forces Agreement to allow South Korea greater access to the THAAD facility, which will be transferred to the United States Forces Korea. At present the site is used by the South Korean Air Force, which has a Hawk missile battery in place.

The government said that while residents and some in the opposition parties have expressed reservations about THAAD, its deployment will greatly enhance the country's ability to deal with the North's missile threat.

The system can intercept incoming missiles at altitudes of 40-150 km, and will augment existing Patriot anti-ballistic missile batteries in the country. A normal THAAD battery consists of six truck-mounted launchers with eight missiles each, a fire control and communications center, and the easily transportable phased-array solid state radar. The 48 interceptors that are designed to hit the incoming missiles and destroy them with kinetic energy have a range of some 200 km, but there is a possibility that Washington may have more missiles stationed in Seongju.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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