Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Military Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

US missile shield spotlights divisions on handling N. Korea
Seoul (AFP) Feb 8, 2016

Official moves towards the deployment -- fiercely opposed by China -- of a US missile defence system in South Korea highlight the inherent dangers of disunity in dealing with North Korea's growing military threat, analysts say.

Hours after North Korea's long-range rocket launch on Sunday, South Korean and US military officials announced they would begin formal discussions on placing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System (THAAD) on the North's doorstep.

The rationale was a clear necessity to upgrade the defence posture of the South Korea-US military alliance "against North Korea's advancing threats," said Yoo Jeh-Seung, Seoul's deputy defence minister for policy.

Yoo's reasoning is hard to fault in the wake of the North's fourth nuclear test on January 6 and Monday's rocket launch, which was widely regarded as a covert ballistic missile test.

"This nuclear testing coupled with the testing of ballistic missile technology ... was always likely to strengthen the argument that South Korea needs to bolster its missile defences," said Ben Goodlad, principal weapons analyst at IHS Aerospace, Defence and Security.

But beyond the strategic logic lies a diplomatic imperative, which suggests an eventual THAAD deployment may be less motivated by what North Korea is doing and more by what China is not doing.

- China consequences -

China is North Korea's main diplomatic protector, and both Washington and Seoul have been pressing Beijing to take a tougher line with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons programme.

But China, wary of the consequences of a collapsing North Korea on its border, has resisted punitive sanctions before, and looks set to do so again as the UN Security Council debates its response to Pyongyang's latest provocations.

According to Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the founder of its North Korea website, 38North, frustration with China's stance has driven forward the possibility of deploying THAAD in South Korea.

"This is a way of sending a signal to China that what North Korea does has real consequences, including consequences for Beijing's own security interests," Wit said.

China's response to that signal was swift and unequivocally negative.

While it only managed a rather muted expression of "regret" over the North's rocket launch, it was quick to voice its "deep concern" at the prospect of South Korea introducing the US missile system.

- Beijing's warnings -

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said such a move would escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula, undermine regional peace and stability, and set back efforts to address the North Korean nuclear situation.

"We demand the countries concerned be prudent," Hua said.

China sees THAAD as a threat to the effectiveness of its own nuclear deterrent, arguing that it could be used to monitor Chinese missile launches as far inland as Xian in the northwest.

China is South Korea's most important trade partner and -- in deference to Beijing's sensitivities on the issue -- South Korea had, until now, declined to formally discuss bringing in THAAD.

Instead it had concentrated on developing an indigenous missile defence system for intercepting short to medium range ballistic missiles, using primarily Patriot-type interceptors.

At the same time, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has made strenuous diplomatic efforts to court China, building a personal rapport with President Xi Jinping in the hope of developing a genuine strategic partnership.

Ties have significantly improved as a result but, on the key issue of dealing with North Korea, Park's diplomatic initiative has not achieved the desired results.

The net result, after the North's latest nuclear test and rocket launch, is the opening of formal talks on THAAD deployment.

- Disunity dangers -

"It's a message to China that if you won't deal with North Korea, we will go our way," said Paul Carrol, program director for the nuclear disarmament and global security organisation Ploughshares Fund.

"And clearly there's a danger there, because unless China and the US can get on the same page with a common approach to North Korea, there won't be any progress and the situation will only get worse," Carroll said.

"THAAD is partly about the US reassuring South Korea that it has its back, but at the same time there must be a broader picture discussion with China about how to handle North Korea," he added.

There is already a THAAD battery stationed in Guam and the other key US ally in the region, Japan, is also considering taking on the system.

"The pressure for the US to reaffirm and extend its deterrent protection to its allies is only going to grow, and there's a real potential for regional tension and instability there," said Wit.

"Instead of curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions, we get an arms build-up instead," he added.


Related Links
Learn about missile defense at
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at
All about missiles at
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Next-Gen S-500 Offers 'World-Beating' Features to Guard Russia's Skies
Moscow (Sputnik) Feb 07, 2016
Russia's newest S-500 Prometey system, which is expected to begin tests shortly, will be a major upgrade to the state-of-the-art S-400 complex and will, according to member of the advisory council of the Military-Industrial Commission Viktor Murakhovsky, be second to none. "The S-500 has world-beating characteristics: it can engage air attack weapons, as well as ballistic missiles, includi ... read more

S. Korea, US to discuss deployment of US missile system

Next-Gen S-500 Offers 'World-Beating' Features to Guard Russia's Skies

Raytheon developing radar upgrade for Patriot system

Boeing, Northrop Grumman conduct missile system flight test

U.S. Navy requests 4,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles in budget

Chronology of North Korean missile development

SM-6 missile demonstrates capabilities

Russia's cutting-edge S-500 missile system to begin tests this year

Moscow Slams Washington Over Development of 'Prompt Global Strike' System

US drone strike kills top Qaeda chief in south Yemen: family

Israeli, South Korean firms forming JV for UAV production

Britain set to buy two Zephyr spy drones from Airbus

ViaSat tapped to provide tactical terminals for Apache helicopters

Harris wins place on military communications contract

General Dynamics MUOS-Manpack radio supports government testing of MUOS network

Raytheon to produce, test Navy Multiband Terminals

New material lights up when detecting explosives

Taser's effect on cognition may undermine police questioning

General Dynamics to support Egyptian M1A1 production

$99.2 million U.S. Army contract for Winchester ammunition

Russia proposes licensed production of T-90S tanks in Iran

CACI completes acquisition of L-3 NSS Inc.

PZL challenges Polish MOD contract decision

Engility continues DOD classified engineering, intel support

Bulgaria authorises NATO to protect its airspace

$66M set aside by U.S. for military facilities in Philippines

Russia green groups forced to close over 'foreign agents' tag

Latvia up in arms over BBC's Russian invasion drama

Scientists take key step toward custom-made nanoscale chemical factories

Nanosheet growth technique could revolutionize nanomaterial production

New type of nanowires, built with natural gas heating

New record in nanoelectronics at ultralow temperatures

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.