Thaad environmental study was kept a secret

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Thaad environmental study was kept a secret

The Ministry of National Defense is facing criticism from the conservative parties for having kept secret a survey outcome that no electromagnetic emissions were detected from the radar of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system.

Defense Minister Song Young-moo admitted Monday that a recent environmental impact study measured no electromagnetic radiation from the radar. Song made the remark at the National Assembly’s Defense Committee.

According to Rep. Kim Hack-yong of the Liberty Korea Party, the Ministry of Environment conducted a summary environmental impact study on July 24.

“According to officials, no electromagnetic waves were detected,” Kim said. “You must tell the people about this finding and fully deploy the Thaad in order to stop the split in public opinion and strengthen Korea-U.S. cooperation.”

Asked by Kim if he had informed President Moon Jae-in about the finding, Song said, “I have not.”

Kim said the people are extremely sensitive about the issue because they believe the health of nearby residents in Seongju will be endangered by powerful radar emissions. Song replied that he will make the finding public.

“It was kept secret because it was being consulted with the Environment Ministry,” he said. “We never intended to hide it.”

Song also said the radar emissions of Korean Navy’s AEGIS-class destroyer is 62 times stronger than that of the Thaad. “And yet, 250 sailors are working on the ship. I believe the electromagnetic waves from the Thaad radar are not a serious issue.”

The conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party and Bareun Party issued statements condemning the ministry.

“The controversy must now end,” said Rep. Choung Tae-ok, spokesman of the Liberty Korea Party, demanding that Thaad opponents, including environmental activists and the ruling Democratic Party, apologize for instigating protests.

The Bareun Party’s spokesman, Jeon Ji-myeong, also said the Moon administration must more actively inform the public about the finding. “Song said he didn’t brief the president about the survey outcome, but we don’t trust him,” he said, accusing the government of hiding the finding and allowing protests.

“It is belated, but the government must modify its reason to complete the deployment,” he said. “And the government must inform the residents to clear up their concerns and stop any further social confusion.”

Moon decided last week to allow the deployment of the system’s remaining four launchers to counter the North’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The decision reignited protests by residents of Seongju, North Gyeongsang, where two launchers and radar were deployed in April. Their latest protests took place near the Blue House and the Defense Ministry on Monday.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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