By Chang Jae-soon
WASHINGTON, June 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea could end up giving U.S. President Donald Trump a pretext to pull American troops out of the country if it reverses the decision to host the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system, a U.S. expert warned.
Scott Snyder, chief Korea analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, made the case in an article in Forbes magazine after Seoul suspended the deployment of an additional four THAAD launchers pending an environmental assessment.
The remark suggests persisting doubts that the suspension might be a precursor to the South ultimately deciding to reject the THAAD deployment altogether, despite repeated assurances from Seoul that the environmental review won't lead to a reversal on the deployment itself.
Snyder said that the government of South Korean President Moon Jae-in should find a way to enhance governmental transparency and accountability "while upholding its credibility as a strong U.S. security partner."
"If the perception becomes that the South Korean government is blocking measures necessary to protect American forces, that would rapidly erode American public support for U.S. troop commitments. It could potentially provide President Donald Trump with a pretext to pursue U.S. withdrawal of forces in Korea," he said.
Snyder also said that THAAD is crucial to defending against North Korean missiles.
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