South Korea's presidential office says a senior defense official has been suspended for deliberately failing to report the arrival of several more launchers for a contentious USA missile defense system meant to deal with North Korean threats.
Moon's conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye, had allowed the United States to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system to deal with North Korean nuclear threats.
The presidential office also revealed the Defense Ministry deliberately arranged the processes involved in the deployment of THAAD to avoid a full environmental impact study.
China expressed its concern today over the arrival in the Republic of Korea of â€‹â€‹four additional mobile launchers of the advanced U.S. missile defense system (THAAD).
During his presidential campaign, Moon opposed the decision to deploy THAAD, calling it "hasty", but as the race wore on, his position softened. But as recently as July 2016, when the USA and South Korea announced their decision to deploy THAAD, Seoul said it meant to deploy the missile defense system by December 2017.
"The Blue House confirmed that the Ministry of Defense intentionally omitted the fact that four additional launchers were brought into the peninsula in its report", presidential Blue House spokesman Yoon Young-chan told a briefing on Wednesday. Moon's argument for the need for adequate global deliberations is a criticism of the previous administration for accelerating the THAAD deployment unilaterally without any attempt to persuade China.
"I am very troubled by that argument and I said several times (during the meeting) that protecting USA forces in Korea is important to me". The Yonhap news agency reported that Mattis and Han will meet on the sidelines of the event and likely will discuss both the North Korea issue and THAAD.
Wee acknowledged giving such order and apparently told the top office that he made the judgment based on an agreement of confidentiality over THAAD between South Korea and the U.S.
On its part, the USA also denied that it hid any information regarding THAAD from the new South Korean government, saying through the Pentagon on Wednesday that it has been "completely transparent" over the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system. "THAAD is the biggest issue facing South Korea and the USA and the security issue that is of the greatest interest to the president".
That said, Moon insisted Wednesday that he isn't seeking to reverse the current deployment arrangement between Washington and Seoul, which was reached last July.
"There are three options..."
"I think that requires making it clear to Kim Jong-un that there is a price to pay for his aggressive development of missiles and nuclear weapons", he added. "(But) as of yet, I haven't seen any indication that China is taking a more aggressive approach".