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Stronger US missile defence in Pacific: in words against North Korea, but in fact - China

June 01, 2014, 15:56 UTC+3 By Itar-Tass World Service writer Tamara Zamyatina ¶ ¶ MOSCOW
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By Itar-Tass World Service analyst Tamara Zamyatina

MOSCOW, June 01, /ITAR-TASS/. The United States proposes to South Korea to deploy ground-based missile defence systems in the country. Representatives of South Korea, Japan and the U.S. discussed these plans at a security conference in Singapore on Saturday. The U.S. mulls seriously South Korea for possible deployment of a mobile missile defence system used for interception of medium-range missiles, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The U.S. offers to deliver to South Korea ground-based anti-ballistic missile defence systems Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) designed to shoot down medium-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.

Contrary to South Korea, Japan has been involved in creation of a missile defence system in the region already for a long time. Seoul has not participated in this programme due to a territorial dispute with Tokyo and a factor of historical memory [Korea was Japan’s colony from 1910 until 1945]. The Pentagon believes that Tokyo and Seoul should settle their disagreements for forming a U.S.-Japanese-South Korean tripartite union, some kind of a military alliance in Asia similar to the North Atlantic Alliance.

In Europe NATO confronts Russia, such alliance in the Asia-Pacific region with other regional countries involved in it may stand against China. Military analysts polled by Itar-Tass believe that declaring protection of allies in the Asia-Pacific region from a North Korean nuclear threat the Pentagon is creating a missile defence system in Asia to neutralize Beijing military potential. In their view, in a speech at U.S. Military Academy West Point on Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama has intentionally thrown out a sharp innuendo not only against Russia, but also China, stating, “Regional aggression that goes unchecked - whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea, or anywhere else in the world - will ultimately impact our allies and could draw in our military.”

“Naturally, the Americans name Pyongyang’s nuclear threat as a reason for building up missile defence potential in the Pacific, but military specialists understand that China is set as a target. Beijing steps up effectively potential of its short-and medium-range missiles against aircraft-carrying assault forces and the Pentagon felt this danger. Therefore, U.S. retaliatory measures are predictable no matter how the Americans try to disguise them under a North Korean threat,” Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies Maj Gen Pavel Zolotarev, former chief of the Information Analytical Centre of the Russian Defence Ministry, told Itar-Tass.

“The Pentagon already has a radar station in Japan and is mounting a second radar there. Now it is advisable for the Americans to have the very missiles THAAD near guidance systems. If they are deployed in South Korea a missile launch area will happen to be closer not only to North Korea, but also China. Meanwhile, these are mobile anti-ballistic missile systems which can be targeted against Pyongyang and Beijing depending on the situation,” the military expert noted.

“Washington places a larger emphasis on missile defence development in the Pacific Ocean than in the Euro-Atlantic region, as 90% of information and assault vehicles of U.S. defensive force are deployed in the Asia-Pacific region. This takes place amid a changing strategic balance of forces in the Asia-Pacific region where Chinese fleet is growing massively. In the total number of combat units Chinese naval forces are already ranked second in the world after the U.S. Chinese shipbuilding programme is the most large-scale one in the world and surpasses U.S. programme [expect for aircraft carriers] and other NATO states. Meanwhile, China invests major resources in build-up of its strategic triad - aviation, intercontinental ballistic missiles and missile-carrying nuclear submarines, particularly a naval component of this triad,” Director of the RAS Centre of International Security Aleksey Arbatov told Itar-Tass.

“An American missile defence system officially being stationed in Asia is targeted against North Korea which had made a test-launch of a ballistic missile over Japan in 2012 and had conducted a third nuclear weapon test in 2013, stirring up one more acute crisis and was probably preparing a fourth military nuclear test. However, further growth of U.S. military presence in Northeast Asia will be excessive to rebuff North Korean missiles and cannot have any other goal but to hamper an increase of Chinese nuclear deterrence potential,” the analyst said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has described U.S. plans to deploy missile defence systems in the region in diplomatic way typical for China, noting that this factor would not promote maintenance of stability and strategic balance of forces in the Asia-Pacific region.

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