These are a bunch of quick thoughts that I wrote down, and are subject to reform or expansion at a later point …..
The cooperative diplomatic participation of the United States with the regional players of South East Asia is of a relatively new phenomenon and as a result many variables and new challenges have emerged for the United States to settle as it attempts to ensure regional stability. China can no longer be pushed to the periphery of regional security developments as it advances its own military forces and technology, and smaller regional players such as the Democratic People’s Repubic Korea [DPRK] need to be responsibly addressed as the fear of nuclear proliferation rises. Further, the ballistic missile proliferation of the DPRK and the People’s Republic of China should be greatly monitored by the Missile Technology Control Regime [MTCR]. There are several consequences that result from the proliferation activity of the DPRK and China that affect not only US interests in the region, but also pose a direct threat to the national security of South Korea Japan, and potentially Vietnam, major allies and partners within the region. Therefore, several measures should be sought after to create a stable and secure environment for the United States and its allies within the region. Of these measures include:
(a) Continuing the Six-Party Talks to find a peaceful resolution to DPRK’s nuclear activity;
(b) Further efforts of joint US-Japanese ventures in ballistic missile defense [BMD] technology communication and interoperability; and
(c) Reform existing Japanese export law that bans any company from selling military technology or equipment to a third-party.
The United States has roughly 42,000 soldiers stationed on Japanese territory and 35,000 more stationed on the border of North and South Korea; thus these US security personnel are under a direct threat posed by the DPRK’s nuclear development and ballistic missile proliferation activity. Given the sensitive interpretational history of the Korean War by China and both Koreas, in conjunction with the current military presence maintained by the United States, it becomes conducive for all parties to utilize the existing Six-Party Talks as the most beneficial outlet to resolve this issue. It was deeply distressing to learn of the DPRK’s 2009 move to quit the talks and resume nuclear activity, naturally causing a good deal of pessimism on future success, however the talks must remain the primary tool of ensuring US and allied regional security. By retaining cooperative and stable relations with the DPRK’s neighboring countries, such as China who exerts some influence on the DPRK at times, allows the US to further contain North Korean nuclear advances.
The United States Department of Defense has issued the Phased Adaptive Approach [PAA] strategy to target current and potential future ballistic missile threats. The PAA calls for the use of developing Aegis BMD intercepting technology that is installed on navy vessels and easily adaptable and mobile to any concentration of a potential threat. In addition to the joint venture of developing the technology, the Japanese and US security personnel are pursuing the enhancement of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) approach, which utilizes the integration of command and control systems that operate and oversee the functionality and execution of the BMD systems. A faster and more efficient form of communication is a necessary quality of defense technology in an age where threats emerge quickly and in a region where security threats presented by the DPRK regime and China are in no short supply.
The current Aegis BMD technology is in transition as the US and Japan implement the next-generation advancements of the systems. As a result, the first-generation equipment shouldn’t be disregarded, bur rather put to use to protect allies and partners within the region from the DPRK’s conventional and nuclear threats. Japan previously had a full-out ban on weapons export to any country, but in 1983 relaxed it to allow export with the United States. In a 2005 agreement, Japan relaxed the export law to allow missile interceptors to be deployed by both countries. Japan however, will have to reform the law once again in order to re-export to third parties the SM-3 Block IIA [Aegis BMD technology]. Third parties would potentially include South Korea who is seeking to further its means to defend its homeland against ballistic missile attacks from the DPRK. If Japan commits to this export reform it will greatly enhance regional deterrence as well as help secure an ally in the region against the aggressive stance of the DPRK.
The Six-Party Talks will ensure a useful interlocutor for the US to the DPRK regime, as well as foster the necessary stable relations with the country’s surrounding neighbors, such as China. In order to deter the immediate threat posed by the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity, the US should seek to enhance its deterrence capabilities alongside its allies; and to find affordable and appropriate measures to supply and secure its allies homelands who are under direct threat and are home to tens of thousands of United States military personnel.