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How to Handle South Korea's Missile Ambitions

The United States Should Not Give Seoul a Blank Check

A missile on display at an army base in Seoul, South Korea, September 2003. Kim Kyung-Hoon / REUTERS

When U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in meet this week, they are certain to discuss Seoul’s plans to build larger, nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. The White House has already signaled its willingness to back this effort, and talks about how to do so are underway. These talks were planned despite recent reports of warming ties between Beijing and Seoul. But if the United States is serious about reducing the prospects for war and nuclear missile proliferation, as well as strengthening its alliance with South Korea, the Trump administration cannot hand South Korea a blank check. At the very least, it should put limits on the range of Seoul’s missiles and ensure that the United States retains a say in when they are used.

This would be in line with over 40 years of the alliance’s history. U.S. efforts to limit South Korea’s

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