Hundreds of South Korean Villagers Protest Installation of US THAAD Missiles
September 7, 2017 Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Associated Press & Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept
Public opposition to the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System missile defense system near a South Korean farming village has grown into major protests, with demonstrators coming out in force after the announcement the government was letting the US install four additional launchers. Some 38 people, including six police officers, were injured after thousands of police were sent to remove hundreds of protesters from a road leading to a former golf course where the THAAD was to be set up.
South Koreans Protest Against US Missile Defense Deployment, Dozens Injured Police Send Thousands of Officers to Chase Protesters Away Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
SEOUL, South Korea (September 6, 2017) -- Public opposition to the deployment of US THAAD missile defense systems near a South Korean farming village has grown into major protests, with demonstrators coming out in force after the announcement the government was letting the US install four additional launchers.
The THAAD are installed at a former golf course, and in an area that was historically very pro-military, because the previous government expected them to support the deployment. Instead, locals were opposed to the move, fearing the US presence would make them targets in the event of war.
President Moon came into office rejecting the THAAD deployments, but amid pressure to act tough against North Korea has endorsed more deployments. Police came out in mass to try to contend with the protesters, reporting that "thousands of officers" were dispatched.
Crackdowns on the demonstrators led to at least 38 injuries, including six police. Officials say they are determined to keep the site clear of protesters to allow the US to quickly install the additional launchers.
SEOUL, South Korea (September 6, 2017) – Police clash with local villagers protesting the construction of a US missile installation. (All times local):
Dozens have been injured in clashes between protesters and police in a South Korea farming village where the US military will begin installing additional launchers to a contentious US missile defense system.
A fire department official in rural Seongju said Thursday that 38 people, including six police officers, were injured after police sent thousands of officers to remove hundreds of protesters from a road leading to a former golf course where the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System has been set up.
A Seongju police official says police have dispersed most of the protesters and the US military will be able to move four launchers and construction equipment into the site soon. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.
A THAAD battery normally consists of six launchers, but only two have been operational so far. Seoul's Defense Ministry has said the US military will begin installing the additional launchers Thursday.
Seonju residents and activists have raised worries over rumored health hazards linked to the system's powerful radar and the possibility the town will become a target of North Korean attacks.
The NATO military alliance is calling for international pressure to be ratcheted up against North Korea following its latest nuclear test. NATO ambassadors said after talks in Brussels on Wednesday that "it is now imperative that all nations implement more thoroughly and transparently existing UN sanctions" against the North.
They urged more efforts to pressure North Korea to abandon what they called its "current threatening and destabilizing path."
The 29-nation US-led alliance expressed full solidarity with Japan and South Korea, North Korea's neighbors. No mention was made of other retaliatory measures, such as the possible use of force.
US President Donald Trump has said that "now is not the time to talk to North Korea" and that "all options remain open to defend the United States and its allies."
US President Donald Trump has spoken with the leaders of Britain and Australia about North Korea's latest nuclear test. The White House on Wednesday released details of calls Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
To May, Trump stressed "now is not the time to talk to North Korea" and that "all options remain open to defend the United States and its allies." He and May agreed to continue work on "increasing diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea."
The White House said Trump and Turnbull "confirmed that their two countries will intensify joint efforts to denuclearize North Korea." Trump repeated his commitment to "defending the homeland, territories, and allies of the United States, using all available diplomatic and military capabilities." Trump is to speak Wednesday with China's president.
The Pentagon says US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has reassured his South Korean counterpart of the "ironclad" US commitment to defend the American ally.
Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo spoke on Tuesday, and the US Defense Department said in a statement Wednesday that Mattis made clear that any threat to the US and its allies would be met "with a massive, effective and overwhelming military response." Their conversation came days after North Korea's latest -- and most powerful -- nuclear test.
President Donald Trump -- in tweets after the North's test on Sunday -- faulted South Korea for what he called its "talk of appeasement" toward the North, and didn't specifically mention that the US is obligated by treaty to defend its ally in the event of war.
China has once again urged the US and South Korea to halt the deployment of a high-tech missile defense system in South Korea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday that China remains strongly opposed to it.
The US military is to add more launchers Thursday to a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery that it began setting up in rural South Korea earlier this year. Geng says the THAAD system would aggravate tensions on the Korean Peninsula and jeopardize the strategic and security interests of China and other countries.
South Korea says the US military will begin adding more launchers to a contentious high-tech US missile defense system in South Korea on Thursday to better cope with North Korean threats.
Seoul's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that four launchers and construction equipment will be moved to the former golf course where the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system has been set up.
A THAAD battery normally consists of six launchers, but only two have been operational so far at the site in rural Seongju.
The placing of additional THAAD launchers will likely trigger an angry response from area residents and activists who have opposed the system.
They have raised worries over rumored health hazards linked to the system's powerful radar and the possibility that the town will become a target of North Korean attacks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says supporting a Russian-Chinese road map would help resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
Speaking after the talks with the visiting South Korean president, Putin in televised remarks urged North Korea's neighbors to support the Russian-Chinese roadmap. He said it "offers a genuine way to defuse the tensions and a step-by-step settlement." Russia and China both share a border with North Korea.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has dismissed the Russian-Chinese roadmap, saying the United States is "done talking about North Korea."
While Putin reiterated Moscow's opposition to new sanctions against North Korea, he told reporters he had assured South Korean President Moon Jae-in that Moscow condemns North Korea's nuclear test and thinks it "flagrantly violates" international law.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for talks with North Korea, saying sanctions are not a solution. Putin made the remarks Wednesday after meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Vladivostok, Russia.
North Korea says it detonated a hydrogen bomb in its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.
Putin, speaking in China on Tuesday, had condemned the nuclear test as provocative, but said that Russia views sanctions on North Korea as "useless and ineffective."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said ahead of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he hopes their two countries can work together to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
The leaders of South Korea and Japan are holding talks with Putin in Vladivostok on the sidelines of a conference on economic development of Russia's Far East.
Moon said Wednesday that the situation could get out of hand if North Korea's missile and nuclear tests aren't stopped. The North says it detonated a hydrogen bomb in its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.
Abe will meet Putin on Thursday. He told reporters before his departure from Japan that "We must make North Korea understand there is no bright future for the country if it pursues the current path."
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