Issue Brief on “Politics of Deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) in South Korea”


South Korea has deployed a controversial missile defence system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) with the help of the US. The system reportedly became operational in early May 2017. South Korea and the US have claimed that this is meant to protect against missile threats from North Korea. However, China has vehemently voiced opposition to the system saying that the system is actually meant for spying on its territory. Relations between Seoul and Beijing have rapidly deteriorated over the issue.

What exactly is the THAAD?

THAAD is a missile defence system that is capable of shooting down short and medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of their flight. It uses hit-to-kill technology (i.e uses kinetic energy to destroy incoming missile). It has a 200 km range and can reach altitude of 150 km.[1]The US has already deployed the system in Guam and Hawaii as a measure against potential attacks from North Korea. Reportedly, the system is highly accurate.

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