The US, Japan, and South Korea intend to share North Korean missile warning data by the end of 2023. Says a statement issued following a meeting of their defence chiefs in Singapore on Saturday.
The declaration came after North Korea attempted to launch a spy satellite that crashed into the sea earlier this week due to a rocket malfunction. The latest in a series of illegal experiments conducted by Pyongyang.
According to their joint statement, the three countries “acknowledged trilateral efforts to activate a data sharing mechanism to exchange real-time missile warning data before the end of the year in order to improve each country’s ability to detect and assess missiles launched” by North Korea.
On the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue defence forum, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Japanese and South Korean colleagues, Yasukazu Hamada and Lee Jong-sup.
They “discussed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) growing nuclear and missile threats, as well as efforts to enhance trilateral security exercises and address common security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region,” according to the statement.
In a second statement, South Korea’s defence ministry stated that it is “committed to making further progress in the coming months towards the activation of a real-time sharing mechanism for missile warning information.”
At a press briefing, Hamada stated that the programme “will improve countries’ ability to detect and assess the threat of missiles launched by North Korea, and we will work hard to achieve this as soon as possible.”
Prior to the announcement, a senior US defence official stated that the planned data sharing is ultimately about “strengthening trilateral cooperation, which we believe is in the interests of all three of our countries, which we believe strengthens deterrence, and which we believe also institutionalises this cooperation.”
Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington all condemned the failed North Korean satellite launch, saying it violated a slew of UN resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests.
In a potential intelligence jackpot, South Korea’s military announced it has located and salvaged a chunk of the suspected wreckage.
North Korea does not have a functioning satellite in space, and despite UN resolutions prohibiting its use of such technology, leader Kim Jong Un has made creating a military spy satellite a key priority.
Because long-range missiles and rockets used for space launches employ the same technology, researchers believe Pyongyang would gain cover for testing its banned intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) if it developed the ability to launch a satellite into orbit.
Pyongyang had launched five satellites prior to the unsuccessful launch in 1998. Three of them failed instantly, but the other two appeared to have been launched into orbit.
Since diplomatic negotiations faltered in 2019, North Korea has increased its military development by undertaking a series of illegal weapons tests, including the test-firing of numerous ICBMs.
Kim declared his country to be an “irreversible” nuclear power last year and urged for an “exponential” rise in weapon development, including tactical nuclear weapons.
The North’s WMD and ballistic missile programmes “pose a grave threat to international peace and stability,” the US, Japan, and South Korea said in a joint statement.