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THAAD to provide S. Korea with valuable capability: CSIS report

All News 04:30 January 21, 2016

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. THAAD missile defense system would provide South Korea with great protection against growing missile threats from North Korea, a U.S. think tank report said Wednesday.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies made the suggestion in a report on the U.S. rebalance to Asia policy, saying the Asian nation "has no area defense capabilities against North Korean ballistic missiles."

Chinese demarches have made a potential THAAD deployment a "sensitive issue" for Seoul, it said.

"The ROK military has expressed interest in developing an indigenous THAAD-like system, but U.S. experience with these types of systems suggests a multi-decade effort would be required to develop and deploy such a missile defense system," the report said.

"Given the growing missile threat from North Korea, THAAD provides a valuable capability," it said.

The U.S. also wants to deploy a THAAD unit to South Korea, where some 28,500 American troops are stationed, to better defend against ever-growing threats from North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

But the issue has become one of the most sensitive for South Korea because China sees a potential THAAD deployment as a threat to their security interests and have increased pressure on Seoul to reject such a deployment.

Seoul and Washington have maintained they have never held any formal consultations on the issue.

The report also suggested that the U.S. work closely with regional allies and partners not only to address the North's nuclear and missile programs, but also the "risk of an internal collapse of regime control."

"North Korea also presents an instability risk, with the potential for a rapid collapse of centralized state control," the report said. "Kim Jong-un faces the dictator's dilemma -- the state must open up to survive, but the process of opening up could lead to the collapse of the regime."

It is unclear what the trigger will be, but a system like the North "cannot continue indefinitely," it said.

The report also said that Korean unification is "not a matter of if, but when," adding that a collapse of regime control would immediately create major security challenges, such as handling refugee flows and securing the North's nuclear weapons and missiles.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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