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.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- South Korea recently impeached its pro-THAAD president and elected a more skeptical one, putting the systems deployment in doubt.
- The Chinese ambassador to South Korea has said that the implementation of THAAD would destroy the countries’ bilateral relationship “in an instant”.
- North Korea continues to actively test their missiles, with North Korean administration claiming it could reach U.S.
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?