The United States is attempting to lay the groundwork for an information-sharing system with its Asian allies Japan and South Korea that would reinforce a missile defense system to guard against an unpredictable, nuclear-capable North Korea. White House National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice pitched the collaborative project to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during U.S. President Barack Obama’s April visit to Japan, this revealed local Japanese media.
Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that this collaborative plan requires that information be shared among the three nations, especially in the event of a missile launch from the North that South Korea can detect with its radar. According to the U.S., information sharing would lead to an even more effective missile defense shield among the three countries. The plan hinges on the merging of U.S.-Japan missile defenses and South Korea’s missile tracking ability. As per the Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo and Seoul are seemingly not convinced at the notion of defense cooperation, especially between the two Asian neighbors who have recently been at odds due to historical and territorial issues.
The proposal comes just as there have been signs that North Korea is preparing to conduct a fourth nuclear test, the latest since its last controversial nuclear test in February 2013. The last test that the North did was not taken too kindly by the international community, and heavy sanctions were brought to bear on the hermit country. With the possibility of a new nuclear test, the question remains how to best address the growing threat that the North poses. According to Dean Cheng, analyst at The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, there will come a time when the North’s violent rhetoric will not be just empty threats. “When North Korea says we will turn Seoul into a sea of flames, that’s not an idle threat,” Cheng said. “That’s a very real possibility.”
[via Washington Times]