Ballistic missile defense (BMD) is both expensive and largely unproven;1 so on what basis might we judge its value? This article offers a US perspective about the utility of BMD in support of Korean security. At the regional level, it is a logical hedge in a modern security environment filled with long-range precision weapons. On the Korean Peninsula, it is a responsible counter against the growth and consolidation of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. And within the US-ROK alliance, it increases the likelihood of US commitment to the ROK in the event of a crisis or conflict on the peninsula. Beyond these rational, material incentives to pursue BMD in the ROK, there is also an overwhelming ideational consideration: in light of Chinese warnings against pursuing certain types of BMD, officials in the United States and around the region may view ROK decisions about BMD as a leading indicator of loyalty in a long-term strategic competition between China and the United States. In this way, BMD in Korea is about far more than Korea.
More from CNAS
PodcastChina’s Role Within the War, with Jude Blanchette and Dave Shullman
What role will China choose to play within the Russia-Ukrainian war? Beijing has notably refused to condemn Moscow for its military aggression, instead putting the blame on th...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, David Shullman & Jude Blanchette
PodcastThe CCP Century: Jacob Stokes On The Upcoming 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress
Jacob Stokes joins the pod to discuss the upcoming 20th CCP Congress, which has not garnered a lot of attention outside of China, but will serve as a crucial inflection point ...
By Jacob Stokes
CommentaryWashington’s Missing China Strategy
The Biden administration has repeatedly identified China as the United States’ foremost foreign policy challenge. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has referred to China as th...
By Richard Fontaine
CommentaryWhat Will North Korean Cybercrime Look Like in 2022?
North Korean hackers will likely continue to employ more phishing campaigns in the future while tailoring their level of obfuscation based on the target’s sophistication....
By Jason Bartlett