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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan to set up new channel to share info on N. Korea

All News 16:20 January 22, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 5-7)

SEOUL, Jan. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to set up a new military network to share text and image information on North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missiles with the United States and Japan this year, the Defense Ministry said Friday.

The military plans to install a Link16 data link connecting its interface control cell with that of the United States Forces Korea both in Osan, south of Seoul, according to the ministry's 2016 policy plan reported to President Park Geun-hye earlier in the day.

The military tactical data exchange network will allow the allies to share text and image intelligence on North Korea's nuclear and missile activities on a nearly real-time basis.

With the data link, South Korea will be able to gain access to U.S. information collected from its Defense Support Program reconnaissance satellite over the Korean Peninsula.

Space Based InfraRed System (SBIRS) satellites, more advanced early-warning satellites which the U.S. runs over the peninsula, will also feed information into the data-sharing network, along with both countries' Aegis warships and Patriot missile interceptor systems.

SBIRS satellites are designed to detect and trace ballistic missiles in the early stages of their launch.

The linked interface control centers will directly provide the theater missile operation cell of each side with shared information so the cells can make a decision on missile interception.

Practically, South Korea will then have a real-time military data link with Japan too, given the USFK's Link16 connection with the Japanese military.

"Despite the U.S.-Japan linkage, information sharing will not take place without agreements from each side, and, even if it takes place, it will be confined to the subjects of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles," a defense official said.

This year, the Defense Ministry will also kick off a project to introduce a total of five military reconnaissance satellites by the early 2020s, the report showed. The plan is part of a wider project to install South Korea's missile defense systems -- Kill Chain and KAMD -- by 2023 against North Korea's emerging nuclear and ballistic threats.

To better combat North Korea's continuing cyberthreats, the ministry also plans to establish a state-run cyber defense research center this year, which will be commissioned to develop cyber weapons against North Korean attacks, according to the report.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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