North Korea has suddenly become active. In the past few years, it has acquired missile technology, nuclear technology and is making and weaponizing missiles with nuclear warheads. Now Japan, a nation whose constitution calls for peaceful, non-aggression is developing first strike capabilities.
First, I doubt North Korea got this technology by itself. I suspect China behind the rise of North Korea. It could also be Pakistan at the prodding of China. I include Pakistan because of the noise in US circles for a radical reset with Pakistan. Ignore the reasons cited in that article for some time. It appears that Pakistan, China and Russia are forming closer ties. That is primary reason US may be considering a radical reset. In 2004, China applied for MTCR membership, but its membership was rejected due to concerns that Chinese entities continued to provide sensitive technologies to countries developing ballistic missiles, such as North Korea.
Second, China may be using North Korea as a strategic piece to test US and its intent in the Pacific, particularly closer to China. China may have used the Philippines for this purpose earlier this year. China is sea-locked and is intent on breaking that stranglehold.
Third, it is possible US knows this. The THAAD deployment cannot be simply for North Korea. South Korea already has enough arsenal to obliterate North Korea two times over. Further, South Korean forces already possess Patriot systems for point defense and Aegis destroyers capable of stopping ballistic missiles. Huffington Post highlights a possible reason why China is wary of THAAD deployment.
The United States and South Korea have repeatedly asserted that the deployment will be “focused solely on North Korean nuclear and ballistic threats” — not Chinese missiles. The possibility remains, however, for THAAD’s radar to be covertly switched into a longer range mode that feeds into the broader U.S. missile defense — giving Washington earlier notice of Chinese launches.
In countering the THAAD deployment to South Korea, two existing Chinese missile programs are likely contenders for accelerated development — hypersonic glide vehicles and multiple, independently targetable re-entry vehicles known as MIRVs.
Fourth, Japan, a nation protected by the US with a full defence presence needs no protection. Yet, Japan last year inducted a pseudo-aircraft carrier, raised constitutional limitations on its armed forces and now is developing first strike capability.
This is a power game between China and US. The strategic pieces used are North Korea, South Korea and Japan. In south China sea, the US did not have a piece in play after Philipines sided with China. These developments do not bode well. But these are the facts.
From the perspective of India and Singapore, China remains a threat. Singapore has conclusively sided with the US and it is the best possible backstop against Chinese domination. India however, has not been decisively in favour of US. It may help to side with the US clearly and unequivocally. At the same time, given the US policy, both Singapore and India need to ramp up their self-defence protocols. Indian missile defence shield is completely inadequate in comparison with what Chinese are capable of. It is time to ramp up the Missile Defences.