US, SOUTH KOREA, JAPAN AGREE TO INTELLIGENCE PACT

FoxNews on December 26, 2014, published an AP story on South Korea, the U.S. and Japan planning to sign their first-ever trilateral intelligence-sharing pact next week to better cope with North Korea’s increasing nuclear and missile threats, Seoul officials said. Excerpts below:

The U.S. has separate, bilateral intelligence-sharing agreements with South Korea and Japan, both American allies which are hosts to tens of thousands of American troops.

But Seoul and Japan don’t have such bilateral pacts amid long-running history disputes stemming from Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. 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.

Under the trilateral pact, 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.

The pact would 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, the statement said.

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.

The formal signing of the pact by the South Korean vice defense minister and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts will take place on December 29, according to South Korean defense officials.

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