South Korea's defence ministry said four additional launchers of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) anti-missile system have been deployed on Thursday, 7 September, by the US to counter threats emerging from North Korea. Launchers and other components were brought to Seongju, about 300kms south of Seoul, amid heavy protests from the locals and environmental activists.
The North had test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in July and another long-range projectile in late August. This was quickly followed by the country's sixth nuclear test on 3 September, raising the tensions in the Korean peninsula.
Forced by the increasing threats from Pyongyang, the US and South Korea had announced they would deploy four more interceptor launchers. Two launchers had already been deployed in April.
"(The allies) completed the tentative deployment of the THAAD system today, as (they) agreed to additionally deploy the four remaining launchers," the South Korean defence ministry said in a statement adding that the extra launchers are part of the earlier agreement.
Thousands of policemen were deployed in advance of the arrival of the equipment to clear the way from the protesters. Besides the launchers, construction and other related components were also deployed.
"The current administration, like the former Park Geun-hye administration, is committing an illegal act. We cannot accept Thaad under any conditions," said a local resident said. Several civilians and police officers were injured when the protests slightly spiralled out of control.
"The battery will be operational as soon as the U.S. finishes its internal procedures," South Korean defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told reporters.
The controversial missile intercepting system was first deployed at the former golf course in Seongju in April. Besides rattling North Korea, the advanced anti-missile system also drew strong condemnation from China and Russia. Both Beijing and Moscow said the US was attempting to expand its military influence using the pretext of North Korea crisis.