Korea, US closer in missile defense
North Korea’s planned launch of a long-range rocket to put a satellite into orbit will lead South Korea and its allies to bolster their missile deterrence capabilities, according to a senior official of the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) Thursday.
Maj. Gen. John A. Macdonald, assistant chief of staff at the USFK, said the North’s launch will make allies strengthen their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets and collaboration.
“The region will get stronger in ballistic missile defense,” he said. “Although it’s a very significant provocation, there is a silver lining in every cloud.”
He said the USKF has been monitoring the situation very carefully, watching the development, deployment and proliferation of missiles and related equipment and technology that pose a threat to the region and the world.
“We have certainly been consulting daily with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and our allies in the region and we made it clear to North Korea that this is an act of provocation,” he said. “We are taking prudent measures. There are a number of assets that are here in the pacific to watch this rocket launch in support of the ROK and all of our allies.”
Macdonald’s family has served in South Korea for three generations. His grandfather was here to distribute military goods in the late 1940s. His father served in 1962 and 1963 in a South Korean border unit. His wife, retired Brig. Gen. Ann, was also thecommander of the 17th Aviation Brigade here.
Macdonald said he expects the U.S. State Department and Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work closely together in sharing diplomatic information and imposing further economic sanctions against the North.
“If it flies wrong, goes off the pad and turns and comes toward Korea, even if it flies a little off, there is an opportunity that it might come here,” he said.
He also expressed concern over the possible failure of the launch.
“What if it blows up on the pad with all the world watching?” he said. “As long as it punches through the clouds, it’s OK, because he (North Korean leader Kim Jong-un) can tell any story that he wants to tell. However, if it blows up on the pad, just above the pad, then he will panic.”
Meanwhile, he raised suspicions that there is a very effective North Korea information operation campaign taking place within the South to keep the public here from believing that North Korea was responsible for the sinking of the warship Cheonan.
“As I was so involved in the investigation and know all of the intelligence, I have had a hard time understanding why anyone would not believe that North Korea sunk the ship,” he said.
He urged the South Korean government to constantly provide information about the facts of the incident.
“They did one press conference and there was no more information,” he said.
The general argued that the government should continue to provide information about the Cheonan incident that is “irrefutable and unmistakable that North Korea killed 46 South Korean sailors on March 23, 2010.”