Calling it a "very shocking" incident, South Korea's new president on Tuesday demanded a probe into why his office wasn't told by defense officials about the arrival of several additional launchers for a contentious US missile defense system meant to cope with North Korea's nuclear threat. Before taking office on May 10, Moon Jae-in vowed to review the deployment of a system that has infuriated both North Korea and China, which consider its powerful radar a security threat. Many of Moon's supporters don't want the system, which President Trump suggested Seoul should pay for, the AP reports. Senior presidential adviser Yoon Young-chan said Moon has discovered that four additional launchers for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system have arrived in South Korea since the original two launchers were installed in April in the southeastern town of Seongju.
Yoon added that senior Defense Ministry officials didn't report the new launchers' arrival when they gave Moon's policy advisory committee a briefing last week. Yonhap News Agency cites a Defense Ministry official as saying the ministry told Moon's national security director about the four launchers the day after the briefing, which the presidential Blue House denies. Moon, a liberal, is working with Cabinet members named by conservative predecessor Park Geun-hye; Moon has picked his own Cabinet members, but they haven't formally taken office. It's unclear if he'll stick with his campaign vow to re-examine the THAAD deployment, as a request for withdrawal of the system's components could severely undermine ties with the US, Seoul's most important ally, analysts say. Moon has said he'll employ both dialogue and pressure to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff. (Read more South Korea stories.)