U.S., Australia Want to Deepen Their Antimissile Cooperation

June 16, 2014, 6:44 a.m.

Top U.S. and Aus­trali­an lead­ers are dis­cuss­ing op­tions for deep­en­ing joint an­ti­mis­sile ef­forts, amid fears over North Korean nuc­le­ar mis­sile de­vel­op­ments.

U.S. Pres­id­ent Obama and U.S. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel dis­cussed en­han­cing U.S.-Aus­trali­an mis­sile de­fense co­oper­a­tion when they hos­ted Aus­trali­an Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott for talks in Wash­ing­ton on Thursday and Fri­day.

A Thursday state­ment from the White House said the two al­lies were “work­ing to ex­plore op­por­tun­it­ies to ex­pand co­oper­a­tion on bal­list­ic mis­sile de­fense, in­clud­ing work­ing to­geth­er to identi­fy po­ten­tial Aus­trali­an con­tri­bu­tions to bal­list­ic mis­sile de­fense in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.”

The United States already has a strong an­ti­mis­sile re­la­tion­ship with Ja­pan and is at­tempt­ing to get South Korea to join in a three-way mis­sile de­fense ar­range­ment as a coun­ter­meas­ure to feared nuc­le­ar-armed mis­sile at­tacks by Py­ongy­ang.

The Aus­trali­an navy is ac­quir­ing new war­ships that could be out­fit­ted with an­ti­mis­sile tech­no­lo­gies, ac­cord­ing to the Wall Street Journ­al.

“This might mean the Aus­trali­an De­fense Force could end up mount­ing ad­vanced mis­siles on its Ae­gis-equipped air-war­fare des­troy­ers,” Lowy In­sti­tute se­cur­ity ex­pert James Brown said.

Mean­while, Py­ongy­ang on Fri­day cri­ti­cized U.S. ef­forts to de­ploy mis­sile de­fenses in the re­gion, fo­cus­ing its um­brage on a re­cent U.S. sug­ges­tion that a Ter­min­al High-Alti­tude Area De­fense bat­tery could be fielded in South Korea, the Yon­hap News Agency re­por­ted.

“The U.S. pro­jec­ted de­ploy­ment of THAAD in South Korea and the South’s moves to join in the U.S. [mis­sile de­fense] are a dan­ger­ous mil­it­ary pro­voca­tion aimed to mount a pree­mpt­ive nuc­le­ar at­tack on the D.P.R.K. … and to bring a nuc­le­ar dis­aster to the Korean Pen­in­sula and the rest of North­east Asia,” the North Korean Na­tion­al Peace Com­mit­tee said in a state­ment car­ried by of­fi­cial re­gime me­dia.

The com­mit­tee prom­ised that the North would “not sit idle” in the face of for­eign an­ti­mis­sile moves. “We will strongly re­act against them by bol­ster­ing nuc­le­ar de­terrence,” the state­ment said.

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