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
CommentaryA Divided Washington Is (Sort of) United on China
The two parties might be divided on almost everything else, but their legislative agendas for China have a lot in common....
By Jordan Schneider & Coby Goldberg
VideoJoshua Fitt Discusses U.S.-China Relations on i24 News
On November 8, 2020, Joshua Fitt, a Research Associate with the CNAS Asia-Pacific Security Program, appeared on i24 News to discuss the potential implications of the 2020 pres...
By Joshua Fitt
CommentaryHow Should the US Respond to China’s New Five-Year Plan?
China’s evolving strategy requires a fresh American policy response....
By Emily Jin & Coby Goldberg
CommentaryAssessing the Impact of Dialectical Materialism on Xi Jinping’s Strategic Thinking
Xi Jinping has made his views rather plain to Party members....
By Coby Goldberg