Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Opposition to U.S. missile defense installation on Korean bioreserve island

Source: "Unwanted Missiles for a Korean Island", By CHRISTINE AHN, The New York Times, August 5, 2011

Jeju Island Bioreserve
Jeju Island, the largest island off the Korean coast, is a volcanic island with a shield volcano that rises to 1950 meters above sea level. The Biosphere Reserve is located at the center of the island. A diversity of ecosystems are represented in the biosphere reserve, e.g. montane coniferous forest, temperate deciduous hardwood forest, warm-temperate evergreen hardwood forest and temperate grasslands.

I quote from the NYT article:
Gangjeong, a small fishing and farming village on Jeju Island 50 miles south of the Korean peninsula, is a pristine Unesco-designated ecological reserve where elderly Korean women sea divers, haenyo, still forage for seafood. It is also the site of a fierce resistance movement by villagers who oppose the construction of a South Korean naval base on the island that will become part of the U.S. missile defense system to contain China. 
South Korea’s president, Lee Myungbak, says the base is needed to protect Seoul from an attack from Pyongyang. The problem with that assertion is that the Aegis destroyers that Lee pledged to deploy at the base aren’t designed to protect South Korea from North Korean Taepodong ballistic missiles (TBM). 
In a 1999 report to the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon verified that the Aegis system “could not defend the northern two-thirds of South Korea against the low flying short range TBMs.” 
Thus, instead of protecting South Koreans, the militarization of Jeju Island will introduce new security threats to the country by fueling an arms race in an increasingly tense region of unresolved conflicts. The naval base on Jeju Island will equip South Koreans and their American allies with the capability to strike long-range ballistic missile batteries in southeast China that target Japan or Taiwan. Washington sees this base as a central pillar to its defense system in the Asia-Pacific region. China, no doubt, sees it as a new threat.

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