None of the US allies in the Pacific are currently willing to host intermediate-range missiles, says a new report by the RAND corporation, a think-tank tasked with developing strategies for the Pentagon. Instead, its author advises, Washington should encourage Japan to develop a missile arsenal of its own in order to threaten Chinese ships.
Within days of the US pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in August 2019, the Pentagon revealed it was working on previously banned missiles and wanting to station them somewhere on the Pacific rim. As RAND analyst Jeffrey W. Hornung points out, that seems to be easier said than done.
In the report, which RAND publicized on Monday, Hornung argues that “the likely receptivity to hosting such systems is very low as long as current domestic political conditions and regional security trends hold,” pointing specifically to Thailand, Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and Japan.
So long as Thailand has a “military-backed government” that “shows a propensity to pursue closer ties with China,” the US wouldn’t want to base missiles there – and the Thai would be unlikely to accept if asked – Hornung said.