Washington D.C. – December 19, 2014 – As the United States considers its options to respond to North Korea’s cyber attack against Sony Pictures, the Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (missiledefenseadvocacy.org) suggested in a Thursday statement that the U.S. President could respond to the attack by following through on the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Battery to South Korea.
“North Korea cannot be given the message that they can use cyber-attacks to achieve its goals with impunity,” said Ellison, adding that the deployment of the advanced missile defense system “would send a strong message to North Korea that the United States will respond strategically to cyber-attacks against its citizens.”
The United States has already been considering deploying THAAD to South Korea since at least June, according to press reports.
The Administration has used the deployment of additional missile defenses in the past as a tool to strategically respond to North Korean provocations. Ellison pointed out that “this same strategic tool was used successfully in 2013 with the deployment of a U.S. THAAD Battery to Guam in response to the direct threats and rhetoric made by North Korea to strike [U.S. territory].” He further stated that “North Korea ceased its rhetoric and threats immediately after that deployment.”
Ellison described missile defense as “one of the tools in the very limited toolbox that the United States has for North Korea,” noting that there are no economic sanctions left that the United States has not already imposed.
MDAA also cited a recent CRS report that suggested a THAAD deployment to South Korea could cause China to reduce its support for increasingly isolated North Korea. Beyond the foreign policy effects, according the MDAA Chairman, “A THAAD System deployed in Korea is needed regardless as it can defend the entire Republic of Korea and all of the U.S. troops forward-based [in South Korea].”
Ellison highlighted the need for a strong U.S. response to the attack, saying “if left unanswered, North Korea could continue to use cyber-warfare methods to attack more sensitive U.S. interests…that could lead to an escalation of conflict and have grave consequences.”