Officials said on Friday that the deal would enable the three allies to quickly respond to any North Korean provocation at a time of increasing tensions with Pyongyang. It would apply to intelligence sharing only on the North’s missile and nuclear progress.
South Korean officials say the formal signing of the pact by the South Korean vice defense minister and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts will take place on Monday.
Last month, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said prototype ballistic missiles seen at recent North Korean military parades may be more advanced than earlier believed, and may even be sophisticated enough to threaten the U.S. west coast.
Many Western analysts dismissed the KN-08 missiles as primitive, non-operational mockups when they appeared in photos at Pyongyang military parades in April 2012 and again in July of this year, but the U.S.-Korea Institute said that the missiles, even if fakes, appear to be getting more advanced, and have reached the point of being what it called «scary good.»
The institute’s report said the missile mockups appear to show North Korea can assemble components and technologies «good enough to produce missiles with theoretical ranges from 5,500 to over 11,000 kilometers.» That would easily be far enough for North Korea to make good on its threats of being able to strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear warhead.
North Korea is banned under United Nations sanctions from conducting ballistic missile and nuclear tests.