U.S. says it approves of Japan-Korea intelligence sharing deal

SEOUL, Nov. 14 (UPI) — The Pentagon said it welcomes the progress Japan and South Korea have made on a military intelligence sharing agreement.

The Japan-Korea GSOMIA was tentatively signed on Monday in response to the rising level of North Korean provocations in 2016.

Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, told Yonhap that a “potential [South Korea]-Japan GSOMIA could strengthen cooperation between our two closest allies in Northeast Asia, particularly in light of the growing threat posed by North Korea.”

This year alone Pyongyang has conducted two underground nuclear tests and dozens of ballistic missile tests.

Earlier on Monday in Seoul the defense ministry had told reporters the third “working-level consultation was held in Tokyo, and there was no disagreement over the entire negotiated text.” The session culminated in a provisional agreement.

The accord is expected to allow both sides to augment their intelligence on North Korea. Seoul is planning to share military secrets with levels 2 and 3 security clearance, and Tokyo is to provide confidential information across three levels of security clearance.

A defense ministry official had said last week the text of the agreement had not changed significantly since 2012, when Seoul and Tokyo began talks.

Negotiations broke down due to public opposition to the agreement in South Korea.

Intelligence South Korea would share with Japan would include screening and video information collected by reconnaissance aircraft, and information obtained by intercepting wireless communication originating from North Korean military facilities located between Pyongyang and the military demarcation line located inside the Korean demilitarized zone.

Seoul would also provide information gathered through high-level North Korean defectors and inside the people-to-people networks that currently exist along the China-North Korea border.

South Korea in turn is expected to gain access to intelligence on North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles gathered by Japan’s surveillance satellite and Aegis-equipped destroyers.

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