THAAD: Defense against North Korea?

WHAT IT IS

  • The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is an anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to intercept incoming short- and medium-range missiles.
  • The U.S. currently has plans to deploy THAAD in South Korea as an active defense against North Korea.
  • China has strenuously objected to the deployment of this missile system by the U.S.

WHY IT MATTERS

North Korea has been actively testing their missiles, with claims they could reach U.S. mainland and military base in Guam. Our strong U.S. ally, South Korea, is crucial to our national interests in the region and is constantly under threat by their neighbor North Korea. Further complicating the situation, China has threatened diplomatic and economic retaliation if THAAD is deployed complicating its relationship with both South Korea and the U.S., as well as our relationship with South Korea.

  • THOSE SUPPORTING THAAD: “The devil’s doorstep”

    • Best offense is a good defense:  South Korea shares a border with an ever-increasingly unstable North Korea and THAAD is necessary.
    • No new friends:  Installing THAAD confirms that South Korea remains committed to the U.S. and is not pivoting towards China.
  • THOSE AGAINST THAAD: “Don’t poke the bear”

    • Don’t poke:  China has been staunch in its opposition to THAAD and some worry that there will be economic retaliation against South Korea if THAAD is deployed.
    • Going Green?:  Many of the local South Koreans living in the areas where THAAD will be deployed have safety and environmental concerns.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • If South Korea does refuse THAAD, does this signal an swing in overall strategy away from the U.S. and towards China?