Seoul to set up intelligence data link that connects it to Japan-U.S. system

Staff Report

South Korea will set up a military data link to share imagery and real-time intelligence with Japan and the United States, a Korean news agency quoted the nation’s Defense Ministry as saying Friday.

Yonhap news agency said the South Korean military data network will hook into that operated by United States troops, based in Osan, with a so-called Link 16 connection — a tactical data exchange system used by the U.S. and NATO nations.

This gives Seoul an intelligence link to Tokyo, as the Self-Defense Forces already operate a Link 16 connection to the U.S. network, Yonhap said.

The allies will share text and imagery intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities, such as data collected by a U.S. reconnaissance satellite monitoring the Korean Peninsula, it said.

Work on a broad bilateral deal to share intelligence fell apart in June 2012 shortly before it was due to be approved, at a time of rapid deterioration in Tokyo-Seoul relations. In December 2014, an agreement with Washington pledged greater trilateral sharing of intelligence on North Korea.

Friday’s report quoted a South Korean defense official downplaying the planned extent of cooperation with Japan.

“Despite the U.S.-Japan linkage, information sharing will not take place without the agreement from each side and, even if it takes place, it will be confined to subjects on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles,” Yonhap quoted the unnamed official as saying.