Letting THAAD in, Seoul makes strategic mistake
by Xinhua writer Zhu Junqing
If Seoul believes that Washington's missile shield could effectively deter the threats from the North, it is making a strategic mistake.
The truth is that the United States does not care about whether South Korea is safe or not. What it truly wants is an anti-missile system that could guarantee America's military supremacy in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.
After the United States deployed four THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) systems on its own soil and installed two X-Band radars in Japan, South Korea is now the missing piece. That's why Washington has relentlessly tried to get THAAD into South Korea since 2012.
Once letting THAAD in, Seoul will become one of Washington's handy tools, losing its autonomy in crafting and executing an independent foreign policy.
The South Koreans also have to know that THAAD would have very limited effectiveness against missiles from the North.
On a technical note, THAAD is designed to shoot down missiles at a relatively high altitude of 40-150 km, while rockets of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fly at a lower altitude of about 20 km, making them incapable of being intercepted by the U.S. system, experts say.
In addition, it is reported that THAAD is to be set up at the Seongju county, some 300 km southeast of Seoul, far from the border with the North. That means the capital and its adjacent areas, the country's most populated places, fall outside the battery's protection range.
Even if the system is workable, it would only be cited by the DPRK as another good reason to further its nuclear and missile programs. Should the situation further escalate, a regional arms race is well expected and South Korea could bear the brunt of a potential full-blown war.
Moreover, Seoul's controversial decision will erode the strategic trust and partnership it has fostered with Beijing, as well as other countries in the region.
China has firmly rejected the deployment of THAAD in South Korea. It has warned that the deployment will breach the strategic balance in East Asia, and eat away the chance to peacefully handle the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
Now the Blue House needs to reconsider its decision. It has to know that allowing THAAD into the country will make even more problems than it could handle.[ Editor: meng ]