U.S. Vice President Pence’s trip to Asia is intended to signal U.S. strength and resolve in the region.
The Trump administration’s willingness to speak out on the North Korea nuclear issue and pressure Beijing on the same topic privately represents a break from the approach of past administrations.
The more realistic option would be increased information sharing between Moscow and Beijing on THAAD and the US military presence in Northeast Asia, as well as joint exercises like the one held in May 2016.
Following months of popular protests and the subsequent impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, a debate looms in South Korea as to whether these unprecedented events will bring about deep structural changes for the country’s political system.
North Korea has nuclear weapons, something that won’t change anytime soon. As bad as this is, recognizing that status in a way that paves the road for South Korea to follow suit would be even worse.
The recent development and deployment of strategic missile defense systems in the Asia-Pacific have heightened security dilemmas in the region.
With the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action diminishing the near-term prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb, most proliferation prognosticators
would likely pick South Korea, Japan, or perhaps Taiwan as the next place that could opt to develop nuclear weapons.
South Korea’s ongoing political crisis is making it difficult to respond effectively to North Korean provocations.
Until or unless Seoul abandons or downgrades it, the THAAD system will almost certainly remain a major irritant in China’s relations with its Northeast Asian neighbors for the foreseeable future.
Neither suspending nor continuing the deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is a palatable choice for South Korea.