CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICEFeb. 9, 2016 U.S. missile plan in Korean peninsula makes little technical sense The United States and South Korea are discussing the possibility of placing an advanced missile defense system in South Korea in response to North Korea’s recent rocket launch into orbit, which many see as part of a secret nuclear weapons program. George Lewis, a visiting scholar at Cornell’s Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, has worked on international security issues for over 25 years. Lewis says that while deploying an anti-missile defense battery might be a political move to engage China, it makes little technical sense, as the system does not have the speed or range to intercept rockets such as the one North Korea tested on Sunday. Lewis says: “Shortly after the launch, the United States and South Korea jointly announced that they would begin official discussions on rapidly deploying a battery of the United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, also known as THAAD, missile defense system in South Korea. “From a purely technical perspective, this makes little sense as a direct response to the North Korean launch, since THAAD interceptors deployed in South Korea do not have the speed or range needed to intercept a rocket such as the one North Korea just launched. “The deployment of THAAD may thus in part be intended to send a message not only to North Korea but also to China, which has strongly objected to the possibility of deploying THAAD in South Korea and which the U.S. government views as not having done enough to restrain North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.”

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