Asia Minute: Missiles, Defense and Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula
South Korea’s new president is shifting policy when it comes to a program of missile defense. The move involves U.S. military hardware and issues relating to the environment. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is suspending the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system.
That’s the U.S. missile defense system more commonly known as THAAD.
Nearly a year ago, leaders in Seoul and Washington agreed that U.S. forces would deploy the THAAD system in South Korea. It uses radar along with a series of rockets designed to intercept incoming missiles, like ones potentially coming from North Korea.
China has objected to it, in part because that powerful radar is within range of Chinese territory.
The first THAAD batteries were installed in late April—less than two weeks before South Korea’s presidential election.
President Moon says that deployment was rushed – skipping an environmental impact statement required by Korean law.
Now an environmental survey will be conducted—a process that could take a year or possibly longer.
In the meantime, two THAAD launchers will remain in place while four more will await the results of the environmental review.
Long before that review is completed, there’s another date coming on the diplomatic calendar.
President Moon is due for a White House meeting with President Trump later this month.