Seoul-U.S. cooperation in missile defense inevitable: former security adviser

SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea should cooperate with the United States in missile defense to better shield itself from North Korea's growing missile threats, a former presidential security adviser said Thursday.

"There is a need to understand the inevitability of cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. in missile defense, such as sharing sensitive security information, for the Korean missile defense system to work properly," Chun Young-woo said in a local forum on inter-Korean security issues.

"It is also accepted that (South Korea) needs to collaborate with the U.S. in its establishment of a regional missile defense system for the protection of Okinawa and Guam," said Chun, who served as the top presidential security adviser under former President Lee Myung-bak.

He said the Japanese and U.S. islands are tantamount to a rear base for South Korea and that any attacks on the neighbor islands constitute a big vacuum in the joint South Korea-U.S. defense system.

His remarks were aimed at the Ministry of National Defense, which has been strongly resisting persistent calls by the U.S. to join its missile defense system mainly due to high costs and military confidentiality, as well as China's strong opposition.

South Korea instead runs its own program, Korea Air and Missile Defense System, along with a pre-emptive kill chain defense plan.

The kill chain system is designed to detect signs of impending missile or nuclear attacks and launch pre-emptive strikes in defense against North Korea's mounting missile capacity.

The defense ministry needs to establish counter arguments against those opposing South Korea joining the U.S. missile defense, he said.

To counter "urgent and overwhelming threats from North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons," he said the country should further step up its security strategy. "The security strategy should be totally re-examined on the premise that the North is nuclear-armed ... and that (South Korea) should focus on preparing military plans to paralyze North Korea's nuclear capacity."

Touching upon the North Korean nuclear issue, the security expert said the North may not be made to give up its nuclear program without far stronger sanctions that will coerce the North to change its strategy.

"The goal of peaceful denuclearization of (North Korea) cannot be given up, but it will not be achieved by the current level of sanctions against North Korea," he said.

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