The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
South Korea Wants an Iron Dome

The age of missile defense proceeds apace. South Korea, wary of its northern neighbor’s arsenal, is talking to the Israelis about an extensive arms deal, likely involving a purchase of Iron Dome technology:

The [Israeli] Ministry of Defense is in talks with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd to purchase four patrol boats for the Israel Navy to protect Israel’s exclusive economic zone. If the $400 million deal goes ahead, the ministry is expected to demand reciprocal procurements by Korea of the advanced missile interception system made by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. . . .

Defense sources say that, regardless of the ships deal, the Ministry of Defense will continue its efforts to sell Iron Dome to other countries, and it has displayed the system at defense shows around the world for this purpose. The sources say that South Korea is a market for the Iron Dome.

This is not the first time Korea has expressed interest in Israeli missile defense; a potential deal earlier this year fell through. South Korea’s current missile defense systems are mediocre, and their threatened population is much larger than Israel’s.

In one sense, the ongoing conflict with Gaza has been a boon for Israeli industry. The more rockets Hamas lobs at Israel, the more the Iron Dome system has a chance to prove itself to international buyers. Suffice it to say that boosting the global profile of Israeli defense companies was probably not an outcome Hamas had in mind.

Published on November 19, 2012 5:52 pm