By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea announced a plan Friday for an additional environmental impact assessment of the THAAD missile defense system, a process expected to take at least several months.
The defense ministry said it will decide whether to fully deploy the U.S. weapon on its soil after the "general" or "ordinary" environmental survey to be held in accordance with a domestic law.
The allies will soon begin consultations on details, including the size of an area subject to the measure under the decision by an inter-agency task force on the issue, a ministry official said.
"It's hard to talk about an exact timeline, as it depends on consultations with the U.S. side and other elements," he told reporters on background. "Usually, it takes 10 to 15 months to complete such a process."
But the period could be shortened since a survey is currently being conducted, he added, reaffirming the government's commitment to wrapping up the process as early as possible.
Unlike a small-scale environmental evaluation, regarded as a formality, the extensive survey, usually for large-scale construction projects like the creation of residential or industrial complexes, requires public hearings, an oft-noisy step.
That's a reason why many predict that the THAAD deployment in Seongju won't be completed within this year.
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