The U.S. House of Representatives keeps pushing South Korea to join a missile defense system led by the U.S. and Japan.
The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act recently passed by the House stipulates that "the secretary of defense shall conduct an assessment to identify opportunities for increasing missile defense cooperation among the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea."
It calls on the defense secretary to submit a report to the House Armed Services Committee no later than 180 days after the act goes into effect.
Seoul is reluctant to join because the program chiefly targets China. Officially, South Korean military authorities say that the system is not interoperable with its own air and missile defense system aimed at North Korea.
The House emphasized that trilateral missile cooperation would strengthen the Northeast Asian alliance and increase the defense capabilities of the U.S. mainland. It also urged the defense secretary to review alternatives related to the capabilities to defend against short-range missiles, rockets and artillery attacks.
The South Korean military is instead pushing for its own missile defense that would be more suited to countering low-altitude missiles from North Korea.