November 06, 2017

Elevating Deterrence on the Korean Peninsula

By Dr. Patrick M. Cronin and David Asher

As scripted, President Donald Trump’s five-nation Asian tour underscores the longstanding U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.  Yet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un may seek to insinuate his way into the program through fresh provocations.  Alliance unity and peace itself could come under fire via a Pyongyang-manufactured crisis. 

Anticipating Pyongyang’s potential mischief, the Trump administration already arranged for three aircraft carrier strike groups to be in the region throughout the longest visit to Asia by any American president in more than 25 years.  But it should take one more defensive move that would visibly demonstrate revolve, enhance deterrence, and boost early warning of any missile launch or nuclear test.

Two MQ-9 Reaper drones equipped with the ability to track North Korea’s missiles, currently sitting at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands, could be deployed northward to Japan or South Korea, where they might augment the allied strategy of deterrence, pressure, and diplomacy.

Read the full commentary in Real Clear Defense.

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