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Guangming Daily News, China

U.S. Allows Increase in
South Korean Missile Range

By Zhenglong Wu

Translated By Stefanie Zhou

28 October 2012

Edited by Vic­to­ria Denholm

China - Guangming Daily News - Original Article (Chinese)

The United States and South Korea have reached an agreement to extend South Korea’s missile range to 800 kilometers. South Korea originally hoped to extend the range from 300 kilometers to 500 kilometers, so that it covers the entire territory of North Korea. However, this time, the United States was particularly “active” and proposed an additional 300 kilometers on top of the requirements made by South Korea.

With a radius of 800 kilometers, the missile range of South Korea can cover Changchun to the south of Wenzhou in China to the north and east to Osaka and Kobe in Japan as well as cover the northern part of the Ryukyu Islands. Why was the United States so “generous” this time? Obviously, this move is deliberate, with consideration for “killing two birds with one stone.”

Firstly, the United States, by “setting fire,” is provoking tensions on the Korean peninsula. After the sinking of the warship “Cheonan,” and attack of the Yeonpyeong Island, turmoil continues on the peninsula. When Kim Jong-un came into power, North Korea continued sending mixed signals, emphasizing economic construction, economic development, improving people’s livelihood and becoming more proactive in foreign affairs, especially in the launch of diplomatic offensive in Southeast Asian countries, showing that Pyongyang intends to open up a new diplomatic situation. The current situation on the peninsula is relatively peaceful compared to previous phases. This move by the United States and South Korea will undoubtedly reverse the status quo, increase the security concerns of North Korea, invoke strong rebounds from North Korea and even stimulate further development of strategic weapons in North Korea. This would further exacerbate the tensions on the peninsula.

Secondly, the United States is meddling with the South Korean presidential election, orienting the future policies of South Korea on North Korea. A presidential election will be held in South Korea at the end of the year. The three most competitive presidential candidates have been formally identified. They are Park Geun-hye, the eldest daughter of former president Park Chung-hee, elected by the ruling party, Moo Jae-in, secretary of late former President Roh Moo-hyun, elected by the largest opposition party and Ahn Cheol-soo, a person without party affiliation. No matter who is elected, however, some adjustments will have to be made to the existing policies on North Korea — although the magnitude of these adjustments will differ between the three candidates. The United States has chosen a sensitive time to introduce the extension of Korea’s missile range. It will compress the space that the newly elected South Korean leader has to adjust political policies on North Korea. It also avoids the possibility that policies on North Korea are out of control from South Korea compared to the United States.

Thirdly, the extension of Korea’s missile range by the United States will lead to a new arms race in Northeast Asia, causing a deterioration of regional stability. Enhanced strategic and combat capability of South Korea provides powerful backup for sovereignty and maritime rights disputes between South Korea and Japan on Dokdo (Takeshima in Japanese). This may further exacerbate the Korea-Japan dispute and prompt Japan to “follow” the practice of South Korea to develop its own ballistic missile forces. This would further exacerbate the tension in Northeast Asia.

Fourthly, the extension of Korea’s missile range by the United States will further “tie” South Korea to the “rebalancing” strategy of the United States, challenging the relations between China and South Korea and creating a new pressure around China.

Lastly, the United States is using the same old tactics it has used in the past. The United States will incite incidents from the extension of South Korea’s missile range, create moderate confrontation and later be condescending to the identity of an arbitrator to manipulate the entire state of affairs in order to achieve greater regional dominance and the right to speak.

Of course, this is just wishful thinking by the United States. Under the current context of “seeking peace and development” in East Asia, these tactics by the United States will probably be difficult to achieve.



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