The Trump Administration announced they are considering shooting down any future North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to the totalitarian regime.
As tensions rise in the peninsula over the North’s continued testing of ballistic and nuclear weapons testing, the US military has ramped up their presence in the area. The Pentagon has been looking for any way short of all-out war to pressure North Korea into denuclearization, The Guardian reports.
The option of shooting down a missile test – which Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress – has yet to materialize into an official position, but it is being considered.
One official said a possible strategy would be aimed at occurring after the next nuclear test, with the objective of telling dictator Kim Jong-Un that the US is able to impose military consequences for transgressions that President Donald Trump has deemed unacceptable.
But experts and former officials said shooting down a North Korean missile during a test risks an escalation that Washington may not be able to control, one that risks war on the Korean peninsula and potentially devastating consequences to allies South Korea and Japan.
“I would see such an action as escalatory, but I couldn’t guess how Kim Jong-un would interpret it,” said Abraham Denmark, the senior Pentagon policy official for Asia in Barack Obama’s administration.
“But I would be concerned he would feel the need to react strongly, as he would not want to appear weak.”
Any “shoot-down” would not involve the area’s new “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense” system, known as THAAD. That system’s 125-mile range has made China nervous.
Rather, the shoot-down would be attempted with an Aegis missile-defense system aboard a US navy destroyer; or by convincing Japan to use its own missile-defense capabilities against a ballistic missile test traversing Japanese waters.
The USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, which includes Aegis-equipped destroyers, is headed for the Korean peninsula.