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article imageOp-Ed: U.S. South Korean missile deployment angers Russia and China

By Ken Hanly     Mar 16, 2017 in World
While the sped-up deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to South Korea increased tension with North Korea, it also led to angry responses from Russia and China particularly China.
Early reports indicated that THAAD missiles would have a relatively short range that would reach throughout North Korea. The system will actually have a much longer range able to penetrate deep into Chinese and Russian territory: According to China’s Xinhua news outlet, South Korea earlier had claimed that the THAAD would be deployed with a detection range of some 600 kilometers, sufficient to cover its North Korean foe. Now though it appears that the US Pentagon is upgrading the radar working range of the system to reach 2,000 kms. With that much greater additional scope, the American missile system on the Korean Peninsula will be able to penetrate deep into Chinese and Russian territory. Beijing and Vladivostok are less that 1,000 kms from South Korea’s capital Seoul.
There have been protests from China and Russia about the deployment. There are even protests in South Korea where residents of areas where THAAD will be deployed worry that they will become targets. The reaction in China has been particularly heated with threats to take retaliatory action. One article suggests that Chinese should not travel to South Korea as tourists and should not buy goods from the country: "Chinese consumers should become the main force in teaching Seoul a lesson, punishing the nation through the power of the market."
Both China and Russia claim that the deployment would upset the balance of power in the region. While the US and South Korea claim that the move is simply defensive it also allows the US to have the power of first strike not just against North Korea but also against Russia or China since THAAD can respond to any attempt to respond to the strike.
The speed-up in deployment was apparently a response to four ballistic missiles test-fired by North Korea recently. Components of the system arrived in South Korea aboard a giant C-17 military transport plane based in Texas. However, the North Korean action was itself as response to what it considers US South Korean provocations: The communist government of Kim Jung-un had warned that the latest ballistic test firing would go ahead in response to the current US war maneuvers being conducted with its South Korean ally. The Foal-Eagle US war exercises are carried out every year and last for two months, involving up to 300,000 troops, aircraft carriers and aerial bombers. The annual «war games» have been going on for decades since the end of the Korean War in 1953, which North Korea has repeatedly denounced as a drill for the eventual invasion of its territory.
Both Russia and China are worried that the real target for the missile systems are them rather than North Korea. North Korea is used as an excuse for deployment. For Russia the situation appears similar to the US missile deployments in Romania and Poland supposedly meant to defend Europe against Iranian ballistic missiles. Moscow considers that the real target is Russia. As with the THAAD system in Korea, the eastern European system protects the EU against any first strike response by Russia to an attack by NATO or others.
The US also has increased tensions with China by deploying the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the disputed waters of the South China Sea claiming this is just part of maritime "routine operations". Accompanying the aircraft carrier is the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne Meyer. The Vinson has more than 60 aircraft. Trump appears to be taking a more confrontational approach towards China, although Obama was also trying to increase US power in the region with his Pivot to Asia.. The US defends its actions by claiming that it is defending the freedom of navigation in disputed territories. However it also sends a message that the US is still the hegemon in the region. The THAAD deployment also pleases and feeds the US military industrial complex: The THAAD system is being designed, built, and integrated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems acting as prime contractor. Key subcontractors include Raytheon, Boeing, Aerojet, Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, MiltonCAT and the Oliver Capital Consortium.[6]
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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