The United States and its allies “will not stand unmoved” in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations, a senior American diplomat said, calling for the communist nation to forswear its weapons programs.
Frank Rose, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, made the remark last week as he talked about U.S. efforts to strengthen missile defense, including the potential deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea.
“The Obama administration is committed to strengthening our missile defense posture around the world, especially on the Korean Peninsula,” Rose said at an Air Force Association event Thursday, according to a State Department transcript.
“The United States and its allies will not stand unmoved in the face of North Korea’s provocative ballistic missile launches and nuclear test explosions,” he said. “Simply put, North Korea cannot obtain the security, prosperity or respect it seeks without negotiating an end to its provocative nuclear and missile programs.”
Shortly after the North’s long-range rocket launch in February, South Korea and the U.S. jointly announced they would begin official discussions on the possible placement of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea.
China has strongly opposed the possible THAAD deployment, claiming the system, especially its radar, could be used against it, despite repeated U.S. assurances that it is only aimed at defending against threats from North Korea.
Rose stressed that no final decision has been made on THAAD, and the system is not aimed at China at all.
“Despite some claims, THAAD’s single-stage interceptors deployed in (South Korea) would not have the range or capability to intercept Chinese (intercontinental ballistic missiles) headed to the U.S.,” he said.
The THAAD radar wouldn’t add much to the U.S. capability, Rose said, pointing out that the U.S. already has two similar radars in Japan, and we have other sensor capabilities in the region, such as the sea-based X-Band radar, Cobra King, and the Cobra Dane radar in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
“It is the threat from North Korea’s extended-range SCUDs and Rodongs that is the driver of a potential THAAD deployment to the ROK,” Rose said of the North’s missiles.
“While we will continue to engage China on missile defense, we have made clear to them that as long as North Korea continues to develop, test and deploy ballistic missiles, we will work with our allies to defend against that threat, including through the deployment of effective missile defenses,” he said.
The U.S. has offered to discuss China’s technical concerns about THAAD several times, but Beijing has yet to take us up on the offer, he said.