SEOUL --- South Korean military airlifted construction equipment to a site where the U.S. missile defense system is to be deployed, indicating an imminent launch of construction, Newsis news agency reported Wednesday.
The local media quoted an unnamed South Korean military official as saying heavy equipment necessary to build facilities and infrastructure inside the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) site were transported by helicopter on Tuesday.
Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to deploy the THAAD system in southeast South Korea.
The THAAD site was altered in September into a golf course, which Lotte Group exchanged for military land near Seoul. The golf course is located in the northern region of Seongju county, South Gyeongsang province bordering Gimcheon city, home to hundreds of thousands of people.
Seongju and Gimcheon residents have staged candlelit rallies every night, since the THAAD deployment decision, to oppose the U.S. weapon that has the microwave-emitting radar detrimental to human body and environment.
THAAD is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire and control unit. The X-band radar is known to emit super microwaves.
The South Korean military attempted in vain to transport construction equipment by truck to the THAAD site as residents blocked the entrance road to the golf course.
On Tuesday, the military mobilized eight choppers to transport two bulldozers, one excavator, two containers and two water tanks to the THAAD site.
Before this weekend, additional equipment were scheduled to be moved to launch construction inside the site as early as next week.
The South Korean government, led by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn who is serving as acting president after the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye, has been in a hurry to complete the THAAD deployment ahead of an early presidential election slated for May 9.
On March 6, two mobile launchers and other elements of the THAAD battery were delivered to an Osan air base south of Seoul and allegedly transported to Camp Carroll, a U.S. logistics base near the THAAD site.