Sankaran Discusses U.S. Policy Options in Addressing Chinese and North Korean Missile Accumulation

News | August 23, 2021

In a recent policy op-ed titled “Countering China and North Korea’s mad dash for missiles,” Jaganath Sankaran, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, discusses the U.S.’s policy options in responding to China and North Korea’s accumulation of ballistic missiles. The U.S. may “respond in kind” by deploying missiles in the region; it may expand missile defense systems in the region, or it may pursue arms control mechanisms. In evaluating these policy options, Professor Sankaran notes that understanding China and North Korea’s motivations behind their missile pursuits will help policymakers weigh the pros and cons of each option.

On the North Korean side, Professor Sankaran identifies missiles as “instruments of coercion and leverage” which North Korea can use in various geopolitical pursuits. For example, North Korea hopes to use the threat of missile bombardment to “unravel Japanese support for a US-led military campaign.” Turning to China, Professor Sankaran discusses Chinese military doctrine documents which indicate an intent to launch a “missile campaign designed to degrade US and allied air defense operations, followed by an air campaign that uses cheaper precision-guided munitions to exact significant operational damage to US and allied operations.” Professor Sankaran underscored that these capabilities “may not be easily achieved.” Read the full op-ed here.