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South Korea In The Middle Between The U.S. and China. North Korea and Thaad Are The Biggest Issues.

ArmchairPolitiicianSouthKorea, July 1, 2017, by Brad Peery, ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com, www.ArmchairPolitician.US

President Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Issues that were discussed included North Korea, and bilateral trade issues, plus others.

In 2016, the U.S. imported $69.9 billion of South Korean goods and exported $42.3 billion, for a $27.6 billion trade deficit with South Korea. In the scheme of things, this is a relatively small trade deficit. However there are specific issues, such as South Korea dumping steel, and automobile trade barriers, which will be discussed in future bilateral trade negotiations.

The U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system, which is designed to shoot down short-, medium- and long-range missiles, is being deployed in South Korea. Two of six missile launch platforms have been installed in South Korea, and the final four have been delayed, supposedly for an environmental study. However, Chinese dissent could be the reason.

China opposes THAAD. It fears it can reduce China’s military leverage. The U.S. will be working with South Korea and Japan to build out what might become a broader and more comprehensive missile defense system. China is also worried that the radar system employed by THAAD could be used to track Chinese missile launches. The U.S. contends that the system is not capable of serving that purpose. President Moon told the U.S. Congress that he would not seek to reverse or cancel the Thaad missile defense system.

China is a much larger trading issue for South Korea than the U.S., as it is for the U.S. The value of its exports to China are more than double the exports to the US. For South Korea, exports are a very large 46% of GDP. China has threatened more economic repercussions if THAAD installations continue.

U.N., U.S. and other sanctions are in place to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. has asked the Premier of China to deter North Korea’s weapons programs. Trump announced that those Chinese efforts have so far been unsuccessful. The U.S. is pressing for additional sanctions on North Korea, and has imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank, and three other Chinese companies that have been fronts for North Korea in China, or enabling North Korea in the development of their nuclear and ballistic missile programs. President Moon has suggested meetings with North Korea, a highly popular position in South Korea. However, this approach has not been successful for the last 50 years, as North Korea has continued to develop its weapons programs.

In confronting North Korea, the preferred solution would be to overthrow the current North Korean regime, and consolidate North Korea and South Korea. In a 2013 paper, RAND estimated that reunification between north and south could cost about $2 trillion, $500 billion for military operations, another $500 billion for damages, and $1 trillion for building the North’s economy.

ArmchairPolitician Opinion:
North Korea is the most important issue with South Korea, and North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile launch programs need to be decisively confronted. We have learned that sanctions don’t work. North Korea has sophisticated weapons systems manufacturing operations. We need to impede their improvement of their nuclear program. We also need to disable the development of their ICBM development program designed to deliver a nuclear weapon to the U.S. If we are not successful, the results could be catastrophic for the U.S. and, of course, for South Korea. China must at least remain neutral in this effort, despite U.S. sanctions on companies enabling Chinese front companies for North Korea that are enabling the development of their weapons programs.

See:
ArmchairPolitiicianSouthKorea, June 4, 2017, by Brad Peery, ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com, www.ArmchairPolitician.US
South Korea Faces Difficulties In Dealing With China-Will The Thaad Missile Defense System Remain Deployed?

See Also:
ArmchairPolitiicianChina, May 14, 2017, by Brad Peery
China Is Enabling The North Korean ICBM And Nuclear Programs: Will This Change?

See Also:
ArmchairPolitiicianNorthKorea, April 22, 2017, by Brad Peery
What Are The U.S. Options In Dealing With North Korea’s Nuclear And ICBM Ambitions To Attack The U.S. With Nuclear Weapons?
China Woos South Korea’s New Leader, but the U.S. Left Behind a Spoiler

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