An aide to South Korean President Moon Jae-in remarked on June 7 that no decision is likely to be made on the deployment of additional THAAD batteries in South Korea until a new environmental impact assessment is completed. He also mentioned that the two THAAD batteries and the X-Band Radar already located in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province would not be withdrawn though.
According to the Blue House, the Ministry of National Defense changed the design of the site for a small-scale environmental impact assessment to be applied to it, which was to meet the request of the previous South Korean administration and the United States to wrap up the deployment early. Specifically, six batteries were to be scattered over 700,000 square meters according to the initial plan of the Ministry of National Defense released on November 25 last year, but the ministry changed the plan later to put all of the six batteries into the Phase 1 site, and the site deformed into a U shape during the course.
The small-scale assessment is applied to a site with an area of less than 330,000 square meters. “Not only Phase 1 with an area of 320,000 square meters but also the entire land provided for the U.S. army, 700,000 square meters, should be regarded as land for military facility installation purposes,” said the aide, implying that a general or strategic assessment should take the place of the small-scale one that take at least one year and six months, respectively.
Previously, the South Korean and U.S. governments were planning to finish the deployment within this year. However, it is unlikely to be done for the re-execution of an environmental impact assessment. The Blue House is expected to make use of the assessment in urging North Korea to change its stance and mending relations with China.