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Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 11:34

ROK installs parts of contentious US missile defense

By Agencies
ROK installs parts of contentious US missile defense
A U.S. military vehicle moves past banners opposing a plan to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), as ROK police officers stand guard in Seongju, ROK, April 26, 2017. (Kim Jun-hum / Yonhap via AP)

SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) says key parts of a contentious U.S. missile defense system have been installed a day after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) showed off its military power.

The work to set up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, within this year has angered DPRK, China and Russia, which see the system's powerful radars as a security threat.

READ MORE: China reiterates opposition to THAAD deployment

ROK said in a statement Wednesday that unspecified parts of THAAD were deployed.

The work to set up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) within this year has angered DPRK, China & Russia

"South Korea and the United States have been working to secure an early operational capability of the THAAD system in response to North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile threat," the ministry said in a statement. The battery is expected to be operational by the end of the year, it added.

South Korea is also known as ROK and North Korea as DPRK.

The Pentagon said the deployment was a critical measure to defend ROK and its allies against DPRK missile threats and it would complete it "as soon as feasible".

U.S. and ROK militaries have been reluctant to publicly discuss the progress of the deployment as candidates in a May 9 presidential election debated whether the move should go ahead or be delayed until after the vote.

Television footage showed military trailers carrying large units including what appeared to be launch canisters being driven into the planned THAAD battery site, about 250 kilometres south of Seoul. Images showed local protesters hurling water bottles at the vehicles and police trying to block them.


More than 10 protesters were injured during clashes with police and some of them had bone fractures, Kim Jong-kyung, co-head of a group of villagers protesting the THAAD deployment, told Reuters. Kim said about 200 protesters, mostly residents in two towns near the battery site, rallied overnight and would remain near the location.

"We will continue our fight and there's still time for THAAD to be actually up and running so we will fight until equipment is withdrawn from the site and ask South Korea's new government to reconsider the plan," Kim told Reuters by telephone.

A police official in Seongju, a town where THAAD is located, said police had pulled out from the location, and was unaware of the report on the injuries.

ROK's Yonhap news agency says six launchers, some intercept missiles and at least one radar have been deployed. The United States began moving the first elements of the advanced missile defence system into ROK in early March after DPRK test-launched four ballistic missiles.

Seoul says Pyongyang conducted huge live-fire drills Tuesday.

DPRK said on Wednesday leader Kim Jong-un had supervised the country's "largest-ever" live-fire drill to mark the 85th founding anniversary of its military, with more than 300 large-calibre, self-propelled artillery guns demonstrating their fire power at an event on its east coast.

The firing drill came instead of a nuclear test or the launch of a long-range missile as feared.

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