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Korean peninsula vs. Bush adm. (4)
Impact of NMD and TMD

Posted January. 21, 2001 18:23,   


(1) Will N.K.-U.S. framework change?
(2) Powell`s Korea policy
(3) Revision of North Korean aid policy
(4) Impact of NMD and TMD
(5) Reduction of U.S. forces in Korea
(6) How to coordinate North Korea policies?
(7) Pressure to rise for market opening

United States Secretary of State-designate Colin Powell told questioners at his Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 17 that the new government would rapidly move ahead with plans to set up a national missile defense (NMD) system. His remarks underline Washington's resolve to maintain its position as the sole post-Cold War superpower by carrying through with the plan, along with its intention to complete a theater missile defense (TMD) system to defend its allies.

The idea of the NMD runs counter to the balance of terror -- the strategy of mutually assured destruction under which a first nuclear strike by one country would trigger a retaliatory blow by the other side and thus devastates both countries at virtually the same time. Under the NMD, the United States believes it would survive on the strength of its "science-technology ideology."

The proposal seeks to change the world's strategic balance of power, a balance that came into being in the 1960s and 1970s. For this reason, those nations that are opposed to Washington's security strategy have shown no hesitation to voice their dismay. The most vocal opponents, China and Russia, condemn the system as part of a U.S. plan to undermine world peace.

Only Japan is participating in TMD-related research and development. South Korea said in 1999 that it would not take part in the program. By way of placating opponents of the system, Washington has played up the threat of North Korean missiles as a pretext for building the missile defense shield.

Former Defense Secretary William Cohen and defense chief-designate Donald Rumsfeld pointed to North Korea and Iran as the main sources of the post-Cold War security threat to the United States. Pyongyang rejected the view as a "plot to obliterate the republic (of North Korea)."

Washington's move toward a national missile defense system naturally prompted China, Russia and North Korea to band together into a triangular alliance. Last May, Moscow and Beijing said they would develop a new system capable of countering the American NMD in order to restore the strategic equilibrium with Washington.

These developments may forebode a renewed Cold War or at least generate new tensions in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world, and on the Korean peninsula in particular.

The row over the NMD is certain to put a damper on the current atmosphere of inter-Korean rapprochement, which began with June's inter-Korean summit. Tensions between the United States and North Korea and between the United States and China will have a direct impact on Seoul's North Korea policy. In the short run, the missile talks between Washington and Pyongyang are unlikely to see much progress. The United States would not agree to North Korea's demand for $3 billion in cash and the overseas launch of its civilian satellites in return for a halt to missile exports.

First and foremost, the U.S. plan will have an adverse effect upon the four-way talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S. and China on inter-Korean peace. The atmosphere of confrontation between Washington, Beijing and Pyongyang is sure to stand in the way of the four-party negotiations, in which the two Koreas are the main players and the United States and China are the underwriters.

Lee Chol-Hi klimt@donga.com