Electromagnetic waves and noise near the site where the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system is deployed in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, have been shown to be harmless to humans.
Anti-THAAD protesters have cited electromagnetic waves and noise as a major justification for their opposition to the system.
Measurements conducted by the Ministry of National Defense together with the Ministry of Environment last Saturday found that the strengthe of electromagnetic waves measured at a spot 100 meters from the radar was one-six-hundredth of the safety and health limit.
Noise 100 meters from the radar was just 1.9 decibels higher than the standard for daytime residential noise. Noise is expected to decrease further once the power system is complete, as it comes mostly from the generator.
In a nutshell, health risks from electromagnetic waves and noise were actually nonexistent from the outset.
Yet, anti-THAAD civic groups spread scientifically unfounded scare stories among residents near the site, instigating them to oppose the system.
They do not acknowledge the measurement results, giving the preposterous pretext that the ministries did not disclose the methods they used to take the readings.
Their obstinate rejection arouses doubt that they do not oppose the system out of concern for the environment or nearby residents’ health.
The ministries asked residents to witness their measurements, but they refused.
They have demanded the two installed launchers be withdrawn before any assessment of environmental impact begins.
One cannot but think they oppose it blindly, facing away the national security and US-Korea alliance.
In a sense, the Moon Jae-in administration has brought this upon itself.
It treated the THAAD as an unpleasant facility until a few months ago. It gave the impression of siding with anti-THAAD protestors.
Then, it shifted its position abruptly after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 28.
Moon instructed his aides to consult the US on the temporary installation of four remaining launchers even before the environmental impact assessment is completed.
The government appears to be pacing back and forth in confusion over what to do about the THAAD, because it has not established principles on the basis of scientific data or expertise.
A defense ministry official said, “The government will keep persuading residents over the measurement results. It is willing to conduct the measurements again if they witness the survey.”
Given their stubborn opposition, however, the day when they will acknowledge the assessment results looks distant.
The anti-THAAD groups will never stop finding faults to keep the system off the Korean Peninsula.
The measurement team had to enter the site by helicopter, because they blocked the road to its entrance.
Will the nation have to wait indefinitely until they approve of the weapon? Which side is the government on?
Moon has said nothing about the protests after he ordered consultations with the US on the temporary deployment of the remaining launchers. He has shown a non-committal attitude.
North Korea has been escalating its nuclear and missile threats to the maximum. It has demonstrated its ability to strike the US mainland with missiles, which are expected to be tipped with nuclear weapons as early as next year.
Pyongyang has given a notice of firing missiles into the sea near the US Pacific island of Guam. Preventive strikes by the US are being mentioned. Military tension is high on the Korean Peninsula.
In this situation, it is time to put an end to conflicts over the full deployment of THAAD.
Four remaining launchers must be installed as soon as possible.
The grounds justified by anti-THAAD protestors lack scientific basis.
The government should not let them block the road to the site any longer.
THAAD is needed to intercept missiles from the North.
Internal strife over the minimum means of defense in a hair-trigger crisis will only jeopardize security further.
The Moon government should keep in mind that peace will be guaranteed only when it is defended with action, not with words.
Residents must stop distrusting the government blindly and make efforts to deliver their opinions through dialogue and consultation.