The Heritage Foundation hosted a seminar regarding North Korea on 26 July 2017 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.. An APPA UN intern, Haeun Kwon, attended this seminar, and wrote the following report about her experience.
<Visit to the Heritage Foundation for a seminar on North Korean issues>
August 4, 2017
On July 26, 2017, I visited the Heritage Foundation and attended a seminar called “What a North Korean ballistic missile threat means for the U.S. Missile Defense System.” The seminar started with senator Dan Sullivan’s opening remarks, followed by a discussion between three panelists.
Senator Dan Sullivan said that North Korea is developing their nuclear missile at an unprecedented pace through continued testing failures. He argued that the United States need to bolster its missile defense system, especially the Space-Based Surveillance and Tracking System (SSTS) in order to protect the U.S. territory and its allies in the case of North Korea’s attack. He supported the Missile Defense Agency (MDA)’s high budget on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) and the Terminal high Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). Concerning the high budget, he said, “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) finally will robust missile defense element to it that ensure safety against increase of threat.” However, he clarified that the purpose of the defense system is to censor North Korea and is irrelevant to China.
Bruce Klingner, Senior Research Fellow supported the senator’s argument by addressing the importance of putting pressure on North Korea. Meanwhile, Kenneth Todorov, former deputy director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said that the SSTS and the discrimination radar can be a possible solution to deal with North Korea issue. He also thought that new invention of technology is critical.
After I listened to General Todorov's presentation, I had a chance to have a personal talk with him. I asked him that although the primary purpose of the U.S.’s defense system is to deter and protect, any more aggressive defense systems can increase the anxiety of North Korea and can possibly lead to a war between the U.S. and North Korea. As a citizen of South Korea, I believe that an increase of defense system will reduce security and stability of North Korean government and will be a barrier for the achievement of regional stability in Southeast Asia. I was able to perceive the security dilemma between North Korea and the U.S. and wanted to know how to deal with the dilemma. Unfortunately, the majority agreed with the possibility of the security dilemma, but did not provide any specific solution for it. General Todorov made a comment to write a thesis on the issue and put his name as a footnote. Although I was not able to come up with exact solution to deal with North Korea missile threat, at least I was able to see how the U.S. leaders perceive the North Korea threat.
I was a bit surprised on their offensive attitude toward North Korea issue and high possibilities of retaliation in the case of North Korea attacks. Although North Korea’s intentions for their frequent missile threats are uncertain, I hope North Korea is a rational actor and as the ablility to make peaceful negotiations with other countries including the U.S. and South Korea. Finally, I hope the competition for power between the United States and North Korea does not result the death of innocent citizens in the Korean peninsula.
APPA UN NGO Intern
Haeun Kwon (Yonsei University)