South Korea has announced a new location for an advanced U.S. missile defense unit.
The Defense Ministry said Friday it intends to place the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on a golf course.
Earlier this year, the U.S. and South Korea had agreed the THAAD battery would be located on a missile base in the rural county of Seongju, southeast of the capital, Seoul.
Local residents objected, however, saying the THAAD system posed health and environmental concerns, and made the area a target for North Korea.
North Korea has threatened to launch a retaliatory strike against the THAAD deployment, and turn the South "into a sea of fire and a pile of ashes."
The new site is on a golf course owned by the Lotte retail chain, 18 kilometers to the north of the air base.
Washington and Seoul agreed to deploy THAAD this year following North Korea's frequent missile and nuclear tests.
Chinese officials have objected to placing THAAD in the region, saying the system's radar has the capability to spy into its territory.
THAAD uses mobile launchers and missiles equipped with precise infrared seeking technology to intercept incoming enemy missiles after reentry from high altitude, during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.
This missile defense system in South Korea would be effective against a number of missiles in North Korea’s arsenal, including short-range scuds and medium range Nodong and Musudan missiles.
Critics point out that in Seoul and other areas near the inter-Korean border, THAAD’s effectiveness is limited against some short-range North Korean missiles and artillery that do not travel into the upper atmosphere.
But proponents say THAAD is part of a larger deterrence program needed to counter North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile capabilities.