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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 15)

All News 07:01 June 15, 2017

Drone's spying on THAAD

A suspected North Korean drone found last week was intended to spy on a new U.S. missile defense site in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, according to the South Korean military.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the drone, discovered on a mountain in the border city of Inje, took 10 pictures of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery. "After tracking its flight based on the photos, we concluded the device crossed the border and flew over Seongju before crashing on its way back to North Korea," a military official said.

The twine-engine unmanned aerial vehicle flew farther than some other North Korean drones discovered in 2014. The pictures were clear enough to identify two launchers and the radar installed at the THAAD site.

One of the drones discovered in 2014 shocked the nation after it was found to have spied on the presidential office. Now, as the drone flew over the southern part of the country, the entire Korean Peninsula has become the target of North Korea's unmanned aircraft.

The drone's spying on the THAAD site appears to be part of the North's efforts to neutralize the anti-missile system installed to intercept Pyongyang's nuclear-tipped missiles.

North Korea is believed to have more than 300 unmanned aircraft. But it is very difficult to detect small-sized drones with ground surveillance radar. Since 2014, local air defense radar has been installed in only a few regions, including Seoul, to detect the drones. But it will take two to three years before such radar is installed across the country.

There is no need to inflate the dangers of North Korean drones. But hundreds of thousands of people might be killed if the North sprayed biochemical weapons using its drones in central Seoul.

What's most pitiable is that our military had not known of the drone's penetration until a resident in Inje retrieved the device from a mountain and reported it to authorities the following day. Given the latest incident, there could have been a good number of drone penetrations that have not been detected so far.

The public has every reason to doubt our aerial defense readiness. The military must hurry to devise anti-drone measures.

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