U.S. Forces Korea has decided to deploy a single THAAD battery to the city of Daegu, a southeastern city in South Korea, a local newspaper reported Thursday.
“A survey team from the U.S. visited South Korea last November to find out the eligible places for THAAD deployment and selected Daegu after a month of survey,” an unnamed government source was quoted by South Korean local newspaper Segye Ilbo as saying.
The source added that the THAAD battery in Daegu wouldn’t be a relocation of previously deployed batteries in the U.S.
“The battery which will be deployed in South Korea by 2017 would be the fifth THAAD battery, next to one for the United Arab Emirates in 2016,” the source said.
One military expert says Daegu, which has a large military airbase and a heavy ROK and U.S. military presence, is in good condition for deployment.
“The military airbase has a lot of advantages for THAAD deployment,” Kim Min-seok, a military analyst and ROK Army advisor for force development told NK News. “Big transport airplanes like the C-17, which are required for its emergency deployment, can land without effort, and it has wide space for a THAAD battery.”
“The distance from North Korea is also an important issue. THAAD has a limited capability to defend itself from North Korean short range ballistic missiles so it’s better to choose a place far from the North,” he said.
However, Pyeongtaek, which is 60 kilometers south of Seoul and has an enormous U.S. military presence, including the Osan airbase, is also a good candidate for the deployment, Kim added.
According to the report, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has already requested that the South Korean government provide land for this use.
However, USFK representative Elizabeth Kim told NK News that she has nothing to say other than a previously released USFK statement.
Kim said that no Host Nation Notification procedure – referring to the stipulation in the Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and South Korea under which the U.S. must inform the South when it wishes to construct a new military base – had taken place.
“We have made no final decisions regarding the deployment of a U.S. THAAD unit to the Republic of Korea,” the statement said.
The deployment of THAAD in South Korea has been a subject of fierce debates recently. Though China has openly displayed its opposition to THAAD deployment, it was reported that the U.S. military has made contingency plans for deploying THAAD to the Korean Peninsula in case of emergency.
Picture: U.S. Army