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US, Japan, S Korea aim to share N Korea missile warning data

Published : 03 Jun 2023 09:46 PM

The United States, Japan and South Korea aim to share North Korean missile warning data before the end of 2023, the three countries said on Saturday after a record number of missile tests by Pyongyang this year.

Leaders of the three allies committed to the real-time data sharing at a summit in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in November.

North Korea has ramped up military development since diplomatic efforts collapsed in 2019, conducting a string of banned weapons tests, including test-firing multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Defence chiefs from the United States, Japan and South Korea announced the data-sharing agreement after they met at a forum in Singapore.

The three sides "recognised 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, their joint statement said.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts Yasukazu Hamada and Lee Jong-sup met on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue defence summit.

They "discussed the growing nuclear and missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as well as efforts to enhance trilateral security exercises and address common security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region", the statement said.

South Korea's defence ministry said in a separate statement that they "committed to making further progress in the coming months towards the activation of a real-time sharing mechanism for missile warning information".

Hamada told a news conference the initiative "will improve the ability of countries to detect and assess the threat of missiles launched by North Korea, and we will work firmly to achieve this as soon as possible".

-- 'Grave threat'-

Pyongyang's record-breaking number of launches this year includes test-firing the country's first solid-fuel ballistic missile -- a key technical breakthrough for its military.

The United States and South Korea have in turn been ramping up their defence cooperation, staging a series of major military exercises that included two trilateral drills involving Japan this year.

North Korea attempted to launch a spy satellite this week but it ended up crashing into the sea after a rocket failure.

Pyongyang does not have a functioning satellite in space and Kim has made developing a military spy satellite a top priority, despite UN resolutions barring its use of such technology.

Pyongyang has said its weapons are meant to defend against what it describes as aggression by the United States and South Korea.

Kim last year declared his country an "irreversible" nuclear power and called for an "exponential" increase in weapons production, including tactical nuclear weapons.

The North's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes "pose a grave threat to international peace and stability", the United States, Japan and South Korea said in their statement.