The new South Korean government under President Moon Jae-in has decided to conduct a year-long environmental impact assessment on the site where the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system is to be deployed.
The defense ministry announced an official plan Friday to assess an environmental impact of the U.S. missile shield on the entire land where the THAAD battery would be deployed.
It was expected to take at least a year to complete the assessment if the process is right away to kick off.
The final decision on whether to install the THAAD system will be made after conducting a "general" assessment of environmental impact on the THAAD site in accordance with domestic law, the ministry said.
Since December last year, a small-size green audit had been under way on 328,799 square meters of land among the 1.48 million square meters of the former golf course, some 300 km southeast of the capital Seoul.
The South Korean military won the ownership of the golf course in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province from Lotte Group, the country's fifth-biggest conglomerate, in return for offering military land near Seoul.
The military had allegedly planned to offer some 700,000 square meters of land of the golf course to the U.S. side for the THAAD deployment, but the offering process was divided into two phases to reportedly shun the large-size, "general" green audit under the previous conservative government.
The Blue House of President Moon, who took office on May 10, ordered an appropriate green audit in accordance with domestic law, revealing the offering process of land was divided into two phases.
The South Korean side was reportedly estimated to provide 600,000-700,000 square meters of land for the THAAD installation. The total offering would be decided after the second-phase consultations between the two sides.
On April 26, just about two weeks before the presidential by-election, part of the THAAD battery was transported in the middle of night to the former golf course.
Two mobile launchers, the fire and control unit and other elements were delivered to the THAAD site in Seongju. Four launchers were reportedly transported to a U.S. military base near Seongju.
A THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, the AN/TPY-2 radar, 48 interceptors and the fire and control unit.