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.
The US has repeatedly warned North Korea not to pursue nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles, to no avail. And diplomacy – both sanctions and inducements – has failed to stop the North.