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Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at Alert@Rendon.com or +1-202-745-4900.
Korean Peninsula and a Strategic Trilemma: Pyongyang Defiant, Seoul Resorts to US Anti-Ballistic Missile System, Beijing Perceives Threat
South Korean President Park Geun-hye presiding over a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul, South Korea, 14JUL16. The meeting was aimed at discussing follow-up measures to the recent decision by Seoul and Washington to deploy THAAD, an advanced US anti-ballistic missile system. (Arirang News)
This week’s snapshot focuses on the latest developments regarding the 07JUL16 official statement of intent to deploy a US advanced anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system on the Republic of Korea’s soil as a response to North Korea’s advancing weapons program. As part of its layered defense architecture against ballistic missiles, which dates back to the mid-1950s and continues to evolve, the United States has deployed westward systems in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and, most recently, Guam. South Korea also has short-range Patriot missiles. The increasing frequency and intensity of DPRK rhetoric and weapons tests — including a fourth nuclear test on 06JAN16, long range missile test on 07FEB16, and fourteen additional missile tests between 10MAR16-03AUG16 — has influenced the current government to reasses the country’s diplomatic and defense strategy. President Park has moved from years of hesitation to deploy THAAD, to public support of working level talks between Washington and Seoul, to most recently an adamant defense of her recent decision to deploy a second, longer-range, top-tier layer to the country’s ballistic-missile interception capabilities. Beyond local South Korean opposition and the bilateral repercussions in Pyongyang-Seoul relations, the deployment of the system compels President Park to manage already uneasy relations with Beijing, which simultaneously serves as Seoul’s largest trading partner and Pyongyang’s historic ally. Finally, Washington and Seoul confront Russian and Chinese threat perceptions that the deployment of an American-operated anti-missile system on the Peninsula serves as a vehicle to alter regional stability in the Asia-Pacific and the global strategic balance among the major powers.
News summary of events during the week of 01AUG16- 08AUG16
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about DPRK’s missile testing and THAAD deployment
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the DPRK’s missile testing and THAAD deployment
Kim Dong-yup, Professor, Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES), Kyungnam University
“There is the possibility that Kim Jong-un was there for Wednesday’s launch of two Rodong missiles, as well as at the past five test fires of the Musudan missiles. The international sanctions against North Korea have influenced Kim’s more frequent public appearances at these missile launches. On an implicit level, he is doing this as a form of nuclear-force propaganda to relieve his people’s concerns over national security.”
Rod Lyon, Fellow at ASPI and executive editor of The Strategist
“China’s right to believe that THAAD surveillance data could be transferred to other BMD assets protecting CONUS [Conteninetal US]…But the United States already has a THAAD battery deployed on Guam, two AN/TPY-2 radars deployed in Japan…space-based assets, plus a range of ship-borne radars and larger land-based radars in other parts of the Pacific theatre. Would a THAAD deployment in South Korea change much? The short answer is that it could improve early tracking of some Chinese missiles, depending on their launch point. Still, that might not make actual interception of those missiles much easier. ICBM warheads move fast. And sophisticated penetration-aids help to confuse missile defenses.”
Sukjoon Yoon, Retired navy captain and a senior research fellow of the Korea Institute for Maritime Strategy, visiting professor at the Department of Defense System Engineering, Sejong University, Seoul, Korea.
“The deployment would imply that South Korea is part of the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) led by the US Missile Defense Agency. South Korea is also developing an indigenous missile defense system against North Korean threats, the Korea Air Missile Defense (KAMD) system, which is less likely to antagonize China than Thaad, since it will not be integrated into the wider BMD system designed to counter Iran in Europe and China in the Asia-Pacific.”
Wu Riqiang, Associate professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China.
“US missile defence is likely to expand as fast as the technology advances. It will be constrained only by budgetary considerations. China is not worried about current missile defence architecture, but rather the unpredictable future of missile defence. The lack of flexibility in US attitudes in deploying THAAD in South Korea does not help to mitigate China’s anxiety.”
Shim Sang Ryul, Professor of international trade, Kwangwoon University
“China doesn’t agree with South Korea’s argument that Thaad is solely targeted at North Korea, and China could use administrative measures to make an uncomfortable situation for South Korean exports, such as delay at the customs. We may have to brace for a trade off between short-term decline in economic benefits for the sake of longer-term national security.”
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the DPRK’s missile testing and THAAD deployment
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 02 August 2016
Seoul, Aug 2, 2016 (AFP) – President Park Geun-Hye on Tuesday evoked memories of her parents’ assassination as she hit back at opposition to the planned deployment of an advanced US anti-missile system in South Korea.
The defence ministry announced last month that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, or THAAD, will be installed in Seongju — a rural county about 200 kilometres (135 miles) southeast of Seoul — by the end of next year.
Media: Xinhua (China)
Date: 03 August 2016
SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) — South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s approval rating posted a double-digit decline in her political home turf following a decision to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in its soil.
Park’s support rate in North Gyeongsang province, a traditional home ground for herself and the ruling Saenuri Party, tumbled 14.8 percentage points from a month earlier to 27.7 percent, according to a survey of 1,224 adults conducted by local pollster Research View between July 29 and 31.
Media: EFE (Spain)
Date: 04 August 2016
Beijing, Aug 4 (EFE).- The deployment of the American THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea threatens the security of China and Russia and reflects “anxiety over the United States’ declining global hegemony,” China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency said Thursday in an article.
The article claims the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system shows “Washington’s insatiable appetite for global hegemony and its vain anxiety towards an imaginary enemy from a rising China.”
Media: Yonhap (South Korea)
Date: 05 August 2016
SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) — South Korea is keeping close tabs on the strong-worded media response from China and its possible retaliatory measures against Seoul’s plan to deploy a United States missile defense system on the peninsula, a top diplomat said Friday.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, however, emphasized that it is important to work in a way to resolve any conflict with Beijing through a broad framework of diplomatic relations with the neighboring country.
Media: Yonhap (South Korea)
Date: 07 August 2016
SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) — Six first-term lawmakers of South Korea’s main opposition party will visit China this week despite an open appeal from the presidential office to reconsider the trip, a party spokesman said Sunday.
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae issued a statement earlier in the day urging the lawmakers of the Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK) to cancel the trip scheduled for Monday through Wednesday.
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