Sunday, April 17, 2011
Text Fwd: S.Korea-U.S. missile defense discussions underway
Illustration of KAMD System
S.Korea-U.S. missile defense discussions underway
Concerns remain over which country will lead the defense programs
April 16, 2011
By Kwon Soon-hyuk
South Korean and U.S. officials have said that discussions are underway between the two countries regarding missile defense. Seoul has drawn a line, saying the discussions are merely to discuss an effective, Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), but there are concerns that this may be a step towards participation in a US-led ballistic missile defense (BMD) program.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, Bradley Roberts, said, “The United States is holding bilateral discussions with South Korea on the issue of cooperating on missile defense.” Roberts added, “With South Korea, we have engaged in bilateral missile-defense cooperation discussions and have recently signed a Terms of Reference and an agreement that will enable our two nations to carry out a requirements analysis so that South Korea can make informed decisions about the utility of any future BMD program.”
In the same hearing, Missile Defense Agency Director Patrick O’Reilly said, “The United States is currently pursuing, researching or analyzing missile defense with over 20 nations, and South Korea is one of the countries with which the United States is cooperating.”
When these comments were reported in the foreign press, the Ministry of Defense, too, said Friday that the Korea Institute of Defense Analyses and the U.S. Defense Department had signed Terms of Reference agreement in September of last year to conduct joint research on the construction and operation of an effective Korean missile defense system. It said working-level officials held their first planning and analysis working group (PAWG) meeting on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington. Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said they plan to meet three to four times a year, and that this did not mean Korea was participating in the US-led ballistic missile defense program. Such discussion did not even come up between officials, he said.
However, for a Korean missile defense system to function properly, its early warning system and control system, such as early warning satellites watching for North Korean missile launches, would have to depend on the United States. Accordingly, there is concern that no matter what form it takes, the program will ultimately be linked to the US ballistic missile defense system, and that South Korea will participate in the system as a junior partner.
The Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system is a missile defense system tailored to the Korean Peninsula to deal with North Korea’s short and medium range missile threat. Discussion of such a system began under the Roh Moo-hyun administration. The U.S. ballistic missile defense system (BMD) counters mostly threats to the U.S. homeland from long-range, high-altitude missiles, while the KAMD would defense against short-range, low-altitude missiles, with North Korea's 300-500km-range Scud B and C missiles in mind. The system would be built around missile defense command and control centers, Patriot 2 and 3 missiles and Aegis warships.
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