Sharing North Korea’s Missile Warning Data Agreed by South Korea, Japan, and United States
Following a meeting of their defense ministers in Singapore on Saturday, the United States, Japan and South Korea expressed their intention to exchange North Korean missile warning statements before the end of 2023, according to a joint announcement.
The announcement came after a North Korean attempt to launch a spy satellite that ended in its descent into the sea after a missile malfunctioned earlier in the week, and is the latest in a series of banned tests by Pyongyang.
A joint statement said the three parties “recognized the tripartite efforts to activate the data sharing mechanism to exchange missile warning data in real time before the end of the year in order to improve each country’s ability to detect and assess missiles launched by North Korea.”
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts Yasukazu Hamada and Lee Jong-sub met on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Defense Dialogue Summit.
The statement said they “discussed the growing nuclear and missile threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as efforts to enhance trilateral security exercises and address common security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.”
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a separate statement that it was “committed to making further progress in the coming months towards activating the real-time sharing mechanism for missile warning information.”
Hamada said in a press conference that the initiative “will improve countries’ ability to detect and assess the threat of missiles launched by North Korea, and we will work firmly to achieve this as soon as possible.”
A senior US defense official said ahead of the announcement that the planned data sharing is ultimately about “strengthening trilateral cooperation, which we believe is in the interests of our three countries, which we believe enhances deterrence, and which we also believe establishes that cooperation.”
Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have criticized the failure of a North Korean satellite launch, which they say violates a set of United Nations resolutions banning Pyongyang from any tests with ballistic missile technology.
The South Korean military said it was able to locate and salvage part of the wreckage suspected of being a potential intelligence asset.
North Korea does not have an operating satellite in space, and leader Kim Jong Un has made developing a spy satellite a top priority, despite United Nations resolutions banning the use of the technology.
Because long-range missiles and missiles used for space launches share the same technology, analysts say developing the ability to put a satellite into orbit would provide Pyongyang with cover for testing its banned intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Prior to the failed launch, Pyongyang had launched five satellites since 1998. Three of them failed immediately and two appeared to have been put into orbit.
North Korea has doubled down on its military development since diplomatic efforts collapsed in 2019, conducting a series of banned weapons tests, including multiple ICBM test launches.
Last year, Kim declared his country an “irreversible” nuclear power and called for a “massive” increase in weapons production, including tactical nuclear weapons.
The United States, Japan and South Korea said in their statement that North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs “pose a serious threat to international peace and stability.”