In an interview today, South Korean President Moon Jae-in offered more details on the ongoing dispute over the US THAAD missile defense installed in the south of his country, a controversial deployment that he’s been critical of.
Moon today revealed that the original diplomatic deal on THAAD, reached before his election, was to deploy a single launcher in 2017, and five additional launchers in 2018, but that the US had “mysterious accelerated” that before the election.
Ahead of the vote, the US had already installed a pair of the launchers, which Moon complained was an attempt to get the system in under the lame duck government before his election. Shortly after his election, Moon announced that he’d learned the US had sent four additional launchers to the site, and was in the process of setting them up.
South Korea’s government froze the installation of the extra launchers earlier this month, pending an environmental assessment. This is seen as an unwelcome delay by US officials, though in reality Moon’s government is likely looking to see if they can get out of the scheme entirely, as they’ve expressed discomfort at hosting the US system, which is not only seen as a hostile action toward North Korea, but against China as well.