| It has been confirmed that the United States is seeking to deploy a battalion of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system, a key interceptor weapon in the U.S. missile defense system, to the U.S. military base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. The U.S. Department of Defense is expected to make an official request for the planned deployment to the South Korean Defense Ministry.
A high-ranking source at the U.S. Defense Department told the Dong-A Ilbo in a telephone conversation that Washington and Seoul were in final stages of coordinating for the THAAD deployment to South Korea. A final decision will likely be announced at the Security Consultative Meeting or a bilateral defense ministerial meeting to be held in Washington D.C. next month.
The source said that the U.S. military base in Pyeongtaek, where the U.S. Forces Korea troops stationed north of the Han River will be relocated, is cited as the most likely site for the THAAD deployment. Another candidate site is the U.S. military base in Osan, Gyeonggi Province. The cost for the introduction of one THAAD battalion is estimated at 2 trillion won (2 billion U.S. dollars).
The U.S. Defense Department is also known to be considering the deployment of another THAAD battalion to the South on the condition that Seoul covers the expenses. Noting that nothing has been concluded, the source added that if Seoul foots the bill for the additional THAAD deployment, it would become a desirable case for cost sharing.
However, the additional deployment plan could cause controversies because of the high cost and strong opposition from China. However, the source did not specify how the two sides will share the cost for the THAAD deployment.
The United States has been claiming that the THAAD system to South Korea should be implemented to enhance the interoperability of the two allies` missile defense system against North Korea because Seoul`s PAC-2 missiles are not capable of intercepting North Korean ballistic missiles and Seoul`s missile defense system is not scheduled to be deployed until 2020.