28 May 2014
US seeks greater missile defense cooperation by Japan, South Korea
By Staff Writers
Space Daily

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/US_seeks_greater_missile_defense_cooperation_by_Japan_South_Korea_999.html
Obama warns against 'aggression' in South China Sea
West Point, United States (AFP) May 28, 2014 - President Barack Obama warned Wednesday that the United States was ready to respond to China's "aggression" toward its neighbors at sea but said Washington should lead by example by ratifying a key treaty.

In a wide-ranging speech on foreign policy to US military cadets at West Point, Obama said that the United States should shun isolationism and that its military must be prepared for crises.

"Regional aggression that goes unchecked -- whether it's southern Ukraine, or the South China Sea, or anywhere else in the world -- will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military," Obama said.

But Obama emphasized caution on any decision to use force and said: "American influence is always stronger when we lead by example."

"We can't try to resolve the problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by the United States -- despite the fact that our top military leaders say that the treaty advances our national security," Obama said, not naming China directly as he diverted from his prepared text.

"That's not leadership; that's retreat. That's not strength; that's weakness," Obama said.

Senators of the rival Republican Party have refused to ratify the treaty, saying that the UN convention would override US sovereignty.

Tensions have been rising for months between China and its neighbors at sea, with Vietnam on Tuesday accusing Beijing of ramming and sinking one of its fishing boats in the South China Sea.

Japan and the Philippines also have tense disputes at sea with China. Japanese commentators have voiced concern that the US failure to prevent Russia from annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March sent the wrong signal to China.

In another reference to policy toward Asia, Obama again cited the democratic reforms in Myanmar as a success story.

The administration upon entering office in 2009 opened a dialogue with the then military-ruled nation earlier known as Burma, whose relations have improved with the United States have improved dramatically.

"Progress there could be reversed. But if Burma succeeds, we will have gained a new partner without having fired a shot," Obama said.

Myanmar has freed political prisoners, eased censorship and welcomed foreign investors, but human rights groups have voiced alarm over violence against the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.


Washington (AFP)
A top US military official on Wednesday called for better missile defense cooperation between Japan and South Korea, in the face of strained ties between America's two closest Asia allies and a belligerent North Korea.

"We're encouraging our allies and partners to acquire their own missile defenses and to strengthen regional missile defense cooperation that will result in better performance than individual countries acting alone," said James Winnefeld, vice-chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff.

"We will continue to emphasize the importance of developing regional ballistic missile defense systems," Winnefeld said during a speech at the Atlantic Council think tank.

"This is a very politically sensitive topic for several of our regional allies, but progress in this area would only increase our confidence in the face of persistent North Korean provocations," Winnefeld said.

"This is about ensuring we can deny the objectives of any insecure authoritarian state that believes acquisition of deliverable weapons of mass destruction is key to the preservation of its regime."

Winnefeld said that in terms of weapons capability Pyongyang poses the greatest threat, "followed by Iran."

His appeal comes with relations between Seoul and Tokyo at their lowest level in years, strained by Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea and a territorial dispute over islets in waters between the two countries.

Despite those regional tensions, Washington likely will "come to rely more" on its Asian allies "to resource the means for their defense," the general said -- especially "in a world of declining budgets."

North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program is a major security concern in the Pacific region and beyond.

Despite international isolation and extensive sanctions, Pyongyang appears to be readying a fourth nuclear test, observers have said.

While it's among the states most concerned about North Korea, resource-poor Japan has maintained friendly relations with oil-rich Iran through its years of ostracism, keeping up a diplomatic dialogue during Tehran's decades long confrontation with Washington.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Washington is weighing a plan to deploy an advanced missile-defense system in South Korea, one that could intercept short, medium and intermediate missiles.

The anti-missile system THAAD, short for Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, is similar to one deployed by the United States to protect bases in its territory of Guam.

A Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steven Warren, said Wednesday that while THAAD is "a very capable system... as of today, there's been no decision" by Seoul or Washington to deploy a battery in South Korea.

Winnefeld argued that a regional approach to missile defense could help spread the costs, noting that a single Thaad missile interceptor costs around $11 million compared to $3 million for a Scud, North Korea's preferred missile.

Meanwhile, Winnefeld said the United States will deploy an additional TPY-2 radar in Japan by the end of 2014 "to both improve our homeland and regional defense capabilities."

He added that the United States is also continuing to operate the Sea-based X-Band Radar (SBX) "as needed in the Pacific" and is planning to deploy a new, long-range radar for the Pacific region around 2020.


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