Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

Better THAAD than Dead

South Korea's decision to deploy an advanced US missile-defense system has raised hackles in China and Russia, with some commentators warning of a "new Cold War." But without missile defense, there really could be a new Cold War, or worse, if South Korea sees the development of nuclear weapons as its only alternative.

WASHINGTON, DC – South Korea is moving forward with plans to host an advanced missile-defense system – known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD – in partnership with the United States Army. The decision by South Korean President Park Geun-hye has sparked controversy, with China and Russia objecting, and some commentators predicting the start of a “new Cold War.”

But China and Russia should welcome THAAD, because it alleviates the need for South Korea or Japan to pursue other defense options, which could include the development of nuclear weapons.

South Korea and Japan have good reason to shore up their defenses. The threat of North Korean aggression is real and will not be eliminated anytime soon. North Korea is escalating its bellicose rhetoric and behavior as it strengthens its military capabilities, which include weapons of mass destruction, long-range ballistic missiles, and cyber and special forces.

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