April 07, 2015

Solving the THAAD Puzzle in Korea

By David Eunpyoung Jee

South Korea has been an ally of the Unites States for over 60 years. Over the decades, there have been numerous defense issues between the two allies. The latest issue hanging over the U.S.-South Korea alliance is the deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Air Defense), which catches Seoul between conflicting pressures from Washington and Beijing.

Commander of U.S. Forces in Korea General Curtis Scaparrotti, the highest U.S. military official in the country, recommended Seoul deploy THAAD to protect itself from the threat of North Korean missiles. But during a meeting between Chinese Defense Chief Chang Wanquan and South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-Koo, China publicly expressed its concerns over America’s proposal to deploy the air defense system. Mindful of Chinese concerns, Seoul’s official stance is the “three nos,” meaning no decision has been made; there was no consultation with the United States, and no request from Washington.

Americans want Koreans to say yes to THAAD; the Chinese want Koreans to say no. Meanwhile, Seoul is hesitant to provide an official stance. Amid the THAAD debate, there are three questions to be answered; why Beijing is concerned, why Seoul is staying quiet, and what the three stakeholder countries should do.

Read the full op-ed at The Diplomat

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