By Azriel Bermant and Igor Sutyagin, Published in Foreign Affairs Journal, August 21, 2017
Tempers in North Korea and the United States are rising amid speculation that Pyongyang has successfully fitted a miniaturized nuclear warhead onto one of its missiles. And now the Trump administration has accelerated its deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which is meant to protect both U.S. forces in Asia and American allies in South Korea and Japan from a North Korean attack.
Yet in contrast to U.S.-led missile defense projects in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, THAAD is not particularly welcome in South Korea. The country’s president, Moon Jae-in, has sent mixed signals about the deployment and many of his people are actively opposed to it. In fact, South Koreans have protested en masse against THAAD, with many concerned that it will further destabilize the region. China is angry, claiming that the missile defense radar system peers into its territory and poses a military threat. It has even initiated economic sanctions against South Korea in response. Russia has likewise voiced strong objections, just as it has done over NATO’s missile defense system in Europe. Rather than making the region more secure, it appears that THAAD could lead to a further escalation in tensions. MORE
Dr Azriel Bermant
Foreign Policy and International Security Analyst, Historian, Lecturer, Author