We need ThaadSeoul and Washington made it official: the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system will be deployed in a U.S. military base in South Korea. Our government said the introduction of the missile defense system cannot be delayed any longer after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January and its remarkable advancement in long-range missile technologies. After Seoul made the decision — despite neighboring countries’ strong opposition and controversies over Thaad’s effectiveness in real battles — the government must find ways to minimize national division and diplomatic friction in the run-up to the deployment.
The government must ease the concerns of China and Russia, which have objected to the deployment because they regard it as a signal of South Korea joining the U.S.-led Missile Defense system. Backpedaling on a more subtle position earlier, our government began discussions on the introduction of the system in March and came to its final conclusion after four months.
Seoul and Washington must make their positions crystal clear. Both sides must persuade China in particular to accept the goals of the Thaad deployment in order to avoid it becoming a military threat to peace in Northeast Asia. Also, it is not desirable for Thaad to become an obstacle to negotiations on North Korean nuclear weapons and inter-Korean dialogue. Thaad must not push the Korean Peninsula into the frontlines of a new Cold War.
South Korea and the United States must take positions on sharing the cost of the deployment and selecting a location. Despite the U.S. government’s position that it will cover the cost of deployment, it could pass along some of it to us, as it means the introduction of U.S. strategic weapons to an ally. Both countries also must clear lingering doubts over harmful electromagnetic waves from the system before selecting an appropriate location to calm controversy over the deployment. They can refer to the case of Japan, where it took two years to persuade local residents through a series of hearings and offering of subsidies.
Opposition parties and local communicates need to take a practical approach. If they stick to ideological fights for partisan interests, it only weakens our security. In Chilgok and Eumseong counties, possible locations for the Thaad deployment, heads of local governments and their representatives in the National Assembly have launched campaigns to oppose it. The “Not In My Backyard” mentality should not overshadow our security.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 9, Page 30