There’s always a reason but why is North Korea so bellicose? Internally there are signs of the economy becoming less centralised and surely the regime just wants to be left alone and to continue its despotic reign? Why attract the censure of the world?
The answer is THAAD. THAAD has only been developed in the last ten years. It has been deployed in the UAE and Turkey and now, last month, in South Korea. Hitherto North Korea had South Korea within missile range and vice versa – not entirely satisfactory but an equilibrium. THAAD protects South Korea making North Korea vulnerable and impotent.
THAAD is a Terminal High-Area Defence system. Here is what it looks like.
THAAD intercepts and destroys incoming ballistic missiles, both conventional and nuclear. It changes the balance of power. Kim Jung Un has lost his leverage and needs to establish a new threat to protect his regime from destabilisation or destruction by foreign powers. Now I understand why his apparent madness in developing long range missiles is in fact a logical response to protect himself.
It is ironic that a system that can only be used as a defence from attack can actually destabilise a region. China opposed the deployment of THAAD in South Korea, realising that it would stimulate the development of missiles with longer ranges by the north. A solution to this dangerous escalation would be for the south to relinquish THAAD in exchange for some partial disarming in the north. It would make the word a safer place but it would put South Korea back in Kim Jun Un’s sights.