The Pentagon laid out its plan and reasons to install an advanced missile defense system in South Korea after Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld named North Korea as the top U.S. ballistic missile threat.
Winnefeld explained in a speech Wednesday in Washington D.C. the need to deploy a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery in South Korea, although he said the U.S. is still in discussions with South Korea.
A THAAD system is not designed to knock down intercontinental ballistic missiles, but it is designed to defeat intermediate and short range missiles. The U.S. deployed a THAAD battery to Guam in response to North Korean ballistic missile tests.
The Penton’s No. 2 uniformed official listed ballistic missiles as a leading threat to U.S. national security. President Obama confirmed in his own speech later at West Point that terrorism remains America’s top threat.
However, Winnefeld listed North Korea and Iran’s ballistic missile developments as threats the U.S. cannot afford to ignore.
“Iranian and North Korean space launched and other capabilities include multi-stage systems that can lead development of ballistic missile technology for longer range systems including ICBMs,” Winnefeld said. “We have to take that threat seriously, even though neither nation has a mature capability and both nations know they would face an overwhelming response to any attack.”