A Korean government investigation into how some of its MoD officials fraudulently tweaked land requirement to house the US THAAD missile to escape a comprehensive environmental impact study may delay deployment of the system.
In addition, a full environmental study that may most likely follow the investigation, could take up to a year to complete, significantly delaying the deployment of the THAAD which is intended to provide South Korea a shield against incoming missiles from the North.
As per the government law, any new installation of equipment or facilities that affect more than 330,000 square meters of land must first be assessed for their environmental impact before being deployed or built.
However, the ministry provided only 320,000 square meters of land first for the THAAD deployment, subjecting it only to the on-going "small and informal" evaluation.
The remaining 380,000 square meters of land promised under the THAAD agreement is set to be provided later, again exempting the THAAD deployment from a full-blown environmental impact assessment, citing the outcome of its recent probe on the issue, Yonhap quoted Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae as saying.
Now the new investigation is underway to find out who had designed the supply of the land for THAAD in such a way that it was successfully kept from a full-blown environmental impact assessment, the report says.
"The order to conduct an environmental impact assessment is a guideline to enhance the procedural legitimacy of the deployment, so the defense ministry will review ways to conduct such a study," Defense Minister Han Min-koo said.