PSPD in English Peace/Disarmament 2016-02-16   2756

[Statement] We Oppose THAAD System Deployment in South Korea

We Oppose THAAD System Deployment in South Korea


(Seoul, 16 February 2016) After North Korea conducted its 4th nuclear test and launched a long-range rocket, the governments of South Korea and the US officially announced plans to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea. We are gravely concerned about the negative impact of this planned deployment in South Korea, and strongly urge both governments to avoid deploying this weapon as it will escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and create further problems related to the North Korean nuclear issue. 

The problems we foresee include:


1. Escalation of Military Tension in Northeast Asia 
We note with concern that deployment of THAAD in South Korea will make this nation officially part of the Northeast Asia Missile Defense system, led by the US and Japan. This will inevitably escalate military tension between the US-South Korea-Japan and North Korea-China-Russia and the nuclear arms race in the region.


The US and South Korean governments continue to argue that deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea is a response to the existence of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles. However, THAAD is not an effective tool to defend against North Korean ballistic missiles targeting South Korea, due to its short range and low peak altitude.


Both governments also insist that China has no need to worry as THAAD radars can be fixed towards North Korea and deployed in terminal mode with low detectable range. However, a multitude of experts contend that it is easy to change terminal mode to forward-based mode, putting most Chinese territory under detectable range, regardless of THAAD’s location in South Korea. 


We believe the main purpose of THAAD in South Korea will be to use the AN/TPY2 radar to identify and trace in the early stages any mid- to long-range ballistic missile from China or North Korea heading to the US mainland or US army bases in Japan or Guam. Based on information provided by the South Korean government to the US and Japan, the rate of interception by the US Missile Defense strategy will increase. 


2. More Difficulty in Resolving Nuclear Issues on the Korean Peninsula 
We emphasize that deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea will make it more difficult to resolve nuclear issues on the peninsula, especially due to the strong opposition from China. China has been managing North Korea’s brinkmanship diplomacy through coordination of the Six-Party Talks and support for or even pressure on North Korea. Deployment of THAAD in South Korea will remove the motivation for China to play an active role in continuing to manage North Korea’s nuclear activity or play a constructive role in reopening the 6-party talks. In addition, rather than resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, deploying THAAD in South Korea will justify to North Korea the importance of developing the quality and increasing the numbers of its nuclear weapons to overwhelm the missile defense system. 


Fundamentally, the North Korean nuclear crisis is the result of hostile relations between North Korea and the US. These hostile relations on the Korean peninsula can be resolved through dialogue and negotiations between the relevant stakeholders, including North Korea and the US.  /END/

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