The new South Korean government under President Moon Jae-in, who took office in early May, announced a plan on Friday to make a final decision on the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) deployment after a "general" environmental impact assessment on the THAAD site.
According to the Defense Ministry, the final decision on the U.S. missile defense system installation in the country's southeast region will be made after the general assessment of the THAAD's environmental impact on the entire site in accordance with domestic law.
Since December last year, a small-size green audit had been conducted on 328,799 square meters of land of a golf course in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province. The results of the audit, which had already been completed, were submitted Monday to the environment ministry, according to local media reports.
The South Korean military won the former golf course of 1.48 million square meters in February from Lotte Group, the country's fifth-biggest conglomerate, in exchange for offering military land near the capital Seoul.
The military had allegedly planned to provide some 700,000 square meters of land for the THAAD deployment, but the offering process was divided into two phases to avoid the large-size, general green audit.
By domestic law, the military land provision of less than 330,000 square meters is allowed to receive a small-sized green audit.
The Blue House of President Moon, who took office on May 10, ordered an another green audit in accordance with domestic law, revealing the offering process of land was divided into two phases.
The South Korean military was reportedly estimated to offer 600,000-700,000 square meters of land for the THAAD installation.
Residents in Seongju county and Gimcheon city, which borders the county and faces the super microwave-emitting X-band radar, denounced the general green audit decision, demanding the "strategic" assessment of environmental impact be conducted.
The strategic green audit means the withdrawal of all of the already-deployed THAAD elements for an overall review on the THAAD deployment decision from the very beginning.
Washington announced the THAAD deployment decision in July last year.
On April 26, just about two weeks before the presidential by-election, two mobile launchers and other elements of the U.S. missile shield were transported in the middle of night to the site.
Four mobile launchers were already delivered to a U.S. military base near the site. One THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, the AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire and control unit.
The villagers living near the THAAD site have continued anti-THAAD rallies every night since Seoul.