February 21, 2024

THAAD in South Korea: A race against North Korea’s missile program?

Seoul has long claimed that the deployment of the controversial system wasn't needed - what changed?

For many years, South Korea  maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity over the possible deployment of the U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system on its soil. It had frequently tried to allay regional paranoia by insisting that its indigenous Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system attenuated the need to adopt THAAD.

But in June last year, South Korea cited the inadequacy of its current arsenal to defend against North Korea’s Rodong missiles, and a month later, the deployment of THAAD was announced. Given, however, that this particular class of missile is old news, why has it suddenly become a significant enough threat to warrant the deployment of THAAD?