[EDITORIALS]Missile System Demands DelicacyAfter two consecutive failures, the United States finally conducted a successful test of an intercepting missile in space. The Pentagon forces destroyed a mock warhead launched from the South Pacific by a missile interceptor launched from California last weekend. The Bush administration's plan to establish a global level missile defense system gained momentum as the the complex test proved successful.
Although Washington applauded that success, the international community observed the results rather coolly. If the United States ignores the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the former Soviet Union and expands the missile defense system, the outcome is predictable. Realization of such a plan will trigger a new level in the arms race. Even if the technological issues of the system were resolved, a fundamental question remains. The question asks: Has the United States exaggerated the missile threat of rogue states such as North Korea and Iraq, in order to justify the establishment of such a defense system? There is some concern over how realistic it is to build the system at such astronomical cost.
Despite such issues, clarifying our standpoint about the missile defense system is a serious dilemma. We cannot forever rely on the strategic ambiguity that "We understand the necessity, but still need further discussion." In the Bush administration, some even argued to deploy aerial laser weapons and Aegis cruisers in Korea and off our east coast in order to counter the possible missile attack by the North. Washington started pressuring us to join the missile defense system and forcing us to make a selection. We are in extremely delicate position because we have to base our security on the U.S -Korea alliance and to seek reconciliation and cooperation with the North at the same time.
Yet, how long do we have to maintain such an ambiguous attitude? We, of course, have to set forth a countermeasure against a short-range missile attack by the North. The Theater Missile Defenses, protecting the U.S. forces in Korea and Japan, are more than enough for such a measure. We should find our answer by distinguishing the Theater Missile Defenses from participating in the global level of this missile defense system.