Scott Hong / Fairmont Prep 11th grade
One of the hottest topics around the world over the last couple of months has been North Korea and the country’s notorious dictator, Kim Jong Un. He has been deemed irrational, suicidal, and insane by many nations around the world due to his rapid investment in the regime’s nuclear arsenal. This highly controversial development prompts the current debate over the need for the United States’ deployment of anti-missile defense systems on the Korean Peninsula.
Designed by the United States military, anti-missile defense systems otherwise known as Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) are used to shoot down ballistic missiles of all ranges -- short, medium, intermediate and long. As tensions around the peninsula escalate everyday due to Kim’s and Trump’s bellicose rhetoric, the probability of a nuclear war mounts daily. Therefore, many argue that it is in South Korea’s best interest to deploy three specific forms of BMDs that can save the most amount of lives in case of an attack.
One notable form of BMDs is Aegis. According to Brad Lendon of CNN in 2017, Aegis has 100 interceptors and can shoot down multiple different targets at once. Second is Patriot, or PAC-3. Kaplan of Slate Magazine explains in 2017 that in a real-world situation, PAC-3 displayed a 95% success rate. Third is the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which is a defense system that has maintained a 100% success rate over the last 12 years. This why Klinger of the Heritage Foundation in 2015 writes 3 THAAD batteries can defend the entire territory of South Korea. These BMDs each provide unique capabilities, successfully defending South Korea from all kinds of attacks. Ellemen of the 38 North quantifies in 2017 that when these missile systems are combined together to form a multilayered shield, they are able to shoot down 90% of the missiles falling from the sky. However, there are a number of drawbacks that come with deploying these anti-missile defense systems.
The most popular argument against the deployment of BMDs is the fact that the increased presence of the US in South Korea provokes North Korea to accelerate the development of its nuclear arsenal. According to CNN in 2017, after the deployment of THAAD, North Korea conducted 7 missile tests in a span of just 3 months, which leads Vladimir in 2017 to conclude that North Korea has accelerated their weapons development specifically because of THAAD. This is obviously not in South Korea’s best interest because the deployment of BMDs is deteriorating the relationship between the country and the North, pushing the two further apart. This increases the chances for war and conflict on the peninsula. Now will North Korea ever fire a nuclear war by firing a nuclear missile to South Korea or the United States? The answer to that question is a definite no. Despite popular belief, Kim Jung Un is a calculated, rational decision maker. He understands if he were to strike either country first, his country will be annihilated. Therefore, Kim might resort to other forms of attack that do not mandate a nuclear response from the United States.
Today, policymakers strive to strike a balance between these two opposite ends to make a solution that will protect the United State and its allies while saving the most lives. With the rapid progression of tensions between these countries, a decision must be made quickly by administration for an effective resolution to this conflict.
<Scott Hong / Fairmont Prep 11th grade