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Escalating an Asian Arms Race - by Stephen Lendman
Together with South Korea, America's military plans expanding its Asian footprint on Jeju Island with a strategic naval base for Aegis class attack ships. They're equipped with sophisticated SM-3 interceptor missiles intended mainly for offense, as well as powerful computers and tracking radar for first-strike capability against enemy targets.
In 2002, Seoul announced construction plans to accommodate Pentagon planners despite strong local opposition. Located south of Korea proper, Jeju Island is its only special autonomous province, situated in the Korea Strait, Southwest of Jeollanam-do Province it separated from in 1946.
Japan lies Northeast, China due West. Jeju is in central Northeast Asia, important for reasons other than military.
Strategically located Southwest of Japan, East of China between the East China Sea and Korea Strait shipping lanes, UNESCO declared Jeju a World Natural Heritage Site in 2007 under the name Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. Korea has nine others chosen for their cultural or natural importance to humanity's common heritage, vital to preserve and protect, not used as launch pads for belligerence and destruction.
In fact, former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun designated Jeju a "peace island." It's also a popular tourist spot and home to rare sea life, a VisitKorea.or.kr site calling it a "Volcanic Island full of Allure."
During WW II, Japan stationed 75,000 soldiers there. The Pentagon later planned to use it strategically, today with another naval base cooperatively with South Korea and Japan against China's military presence, as well as perhaps interdicting its ability to import oil, much of which comes through Yellow Sea shipping lanes.
According to a 2009 Pentagon report, China's naval forces are formidable, numbering 260 vessels, including 75 or more major warships and over 60 submarines. However, Beijing regards powerful US and South Korean warships equipped with interceptor offensive missiles close to its border a strategic threat. According to South Korea's Peace Network director Cheong Wook-sik:
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