March 16 (UPI) — The X-Band radar of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD has arrived in South Korea and is expected to be placed in position in April.
The powerful radar has been at the center of regional controversy.
China has repeatedly voiced opposition to the THAAD radar, claiming the system could monitor military movements within Chinese borders, even as the United States tried to reassure Beijing THAAD was being used to deter North Korea missiles.
The United States and South Korea are moving ahead with plans to deploy missile defense despite several challenges: Chinese retaliation against South Korean businesses, condemnations from North Korea and domestic political uncertainty in South Korea in the wake of President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment.
South Korean television network KBS reported the system could be operational as early as next week.
The U.S. and South Korea military may also have begun to assess the environmental impact of THAAD in the region in central South Korea where it is to be positioned.
There had previously been some concerns in South Korea that THAAD may emit radiation that could pose harm to local residents in the area.
Once evaluations reflect no issues with the system, THAAD deployment could begin immediately.
Seoul’s defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said “preparation is underway,” and once “the basic design is established, an environmental impact assessment will be carried out.”
THAAD parts, including the launcher, arrived in South Korea in early March, and other parts are expected to arrive next week, according to the report.