Reassure local residents and China

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Reassure local residents and China

North Korea has fired ballistic missiles again. This time, it launched two short-range Skud Cs and one medium-range Rodong missile from North Hwanghae Province to the East Sea for over an hour. Pyongyang took the action only ten days after it shot a Musudan missile with the longer 3,000-4,000 kilometer (1,864-2,485 miles) range on July 9.

The missile launch is a challenge against the international community because North Korea made the brazen provocation despite the UN Security Councils’ strict ban on testing ballistic missiles. The North has already fired 27 ballistic missiles on 12 separate occasions since the beginning of this year.

Such belligerent behavior constitutes an unabashed threat to our security. A high official from the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the missile launch can be seen as a show of force because those missiles can target the entire region of South Korea, including Busan. The General Staff Department of the (North) Korean People’s Army warned on July 11 that it would make “physical retaliation” if the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system is deployed in the South.

The North’s missile provocation has once again justified the Thaad deployment in South Korea. The Rodong missile it fired yesterday is not easy to intercept with our Patriot missiles, but can effectively be shot down with the Thaad battery. That once again shows the purpose of the Thaad system to be deployed in the South — protecting us from the North’s unexpected missile attacks.

It is high time to end all controversies over Thaad. Local reporters on military affairs confirmed no health risks from the Thaad battery in a recent trip to Anderson Airbase in Guam. During the tour to the site, they discovered that electromagnetic waves from the battery were only 0.007 percent of 10W per cubic meters — the safety standard — when they were measured at a point 1.6 kilometers from the battery.

Our Ministry of National Defense and other military authorities must sincerely explain to local residents in Seongju, North Gyeongsang, about the safety issue involving the deployment and seek their understanding. At the same time, the government must recognize that its abrupt announcement of the deployment caused local people’s resistance and find effective ways to convince them there will be no health risks from the deployment. The government also must make efforts to reassure China about the necessity of Thaad to shield us from the North’s missile attacks.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 20, Page 30

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