South Korea Might Move Toward Joining U.S.-Led Missile Shield

South Korea could be more open to taking part in a U.S. plan for establishing a regional missile defense system in the wake of last week's long-range rocket firing by North Korea, the Hankyoreh reported (see GSN, April 13).

Seoul to date has turned down U.S. proposals to take part in its missile defense endeavors (see GSN, April 18, 2011). 

Washington's plan involves four components: a command and control system, radars, high-altitude interception capabilities and low-altitude interception capabilities.

The South Korean military has focused on building up a domestic antimissile capacity and has set 2015 as the deadline for completing a missile shield capable of shooting down short- and medium-range missiles fired from the North. As part of this effort, the South is pursuing acquisition in no more than 12 months of Israel's Green Pine long-range radar system at a cost of $88 million (see GSN, Feb. 1).

Meanwhile, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the government-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses think tank are jointly exploring options for reacting to a North Korean ballistic missile attack.

Even though North Korea's declared attempt to place a satellite into space failed on Friday, Seoul could be unnerved enough to reconsider accepting U.S. calls to take part in collaborative missile defense, analysts said.

"Taking part in the U.S. missile defense plan would cost a tremendous amount of money, around 10 trillion won [$8.8 billion) just for building the initial system," said  Kim Jong-dae, editor in chief of the military defense journal Defense 21+. "But there is no guarantee of successful interception, and we would also have to face the prospect of our relationship with Beijing going downhill" (Lee Soon-hyuk, Hankyoreh, April 16).

April 16, 2012
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South Korea could be more open to taking part in a U.S. plan for establishing a regional missile defense system in the wake of last week's long-range rocket firing by North Korea, the Hankyoreh reported.

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