South Korea, US and Japan to sign trilateral intelligence-sharing pact
Seoul, Dec 26: South Korea, the US and Japan are set to sign their first-ever trilateral military intelligence-sharing pact next week to better cope with North Korea’s increasing nuclear and missile threats.
South Korea’s Vice Defense Minister Baek Seung-joo, Japan‘s Vice Defense Minister Masanori Nishi and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work will ink the pact on Monday in their country, respectively, without holding a signing ceremony, the Yonhap News Agency said, citing Seoul’s defense ministry.
Under the pact, South Korea and Japan will not exchange military intelligence directly, and the shared intelligence will be limited to the North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
The US has separate, bilateral intelligence-sharing agreement both with South Korea and Japan, both American allies which are hosts to tens of thousands of American troops.
In 2012, the two almost forged their first-ever intelligence-sharing pact but its signing was scrapped at the last minute due to backlash in South Korea.
Military intelligence pacts were concluded in 1987 between Washington and Seoul and in 2007 between Washington and Tokyo, but not between Seoul and Tokyo.
Under the trilateral memorandum of understanding, South Korea and Japan would share intelligence, only on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, via the U.S., according to a statement from Seoul’s Defense Ministry.
As per the pact to be signed, South Korea will deliver intelligence to the US, which in turn passes it on to Japan after South Korea’s approval. Japan will give intelligence to the US, which in turn forwards it to South Korea after Japan‘s approval.
The agreement will enable the three countries to swiftly respond to any North Korean provocation at a time when its threats are growing following its third nuclear test in February 2013, Seoul’s Defence Ministry statement said. The use of Japanese intelligence assets would boost surveillance on North Korea, it added.
South Korean officials have said the North is believed to have made progress in its goal of manufacturing nuclear warheads small and light enough to be placed on a missile capable of reaching the U.S., given that eight years have passed since its first bomb tests. North Korea conducted its first test in 2006 followed by another in 2009.
The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. In October, troops of the rival Koreas exchanged gunfire along their heavily fortified borders several times though no causalities were reported.
The Oslo Times