The “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance of English-speaking nations is working with France, Japan and South Korea in an effort to restrain North Korea’s provocations, government sources said Sunday.
With the expanded framework, the alliance — which comprises Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the United States — together with the three new partners will strengthen intelligence activities that go beyond the analysis of North Korean ballistic missiles currently undertaken by Japan, South Korea and the United States, the sources said.
Officials from the eight countries gathered last fall and discussed how best to collect information on North Korea, according to the Japanese and U.S. government sources.
The alliance is also considering developing the partnership with the three countries into one that facilitates the exchange of intelligence on China’s growing military muscle, the sources said.
With the U.S. Seventh Fleet’s flagship Blue Ridge — based in the city of Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture — as a command and coordination center, the eight countries have been monitoring activities at sea to prevent North Korean vessels from engaging in illicit ship-to-ship cargo transfers.
Until recently there was no framework for cooperation among their intelligence units.
The United States has sought to build the “Five Eyes plus” framework together with friendly countries to counter threats in new realms, including space and cybersecurity where China is also increasing its power.
Intelligence agencies of the five-nation alliance have held multiple meetings with France, Germany and Japan, on how to deal with Chinese cyberattacks, the sources said.
The alliance has its roots in an intelligence-sharing agreement between the U.K. and the United States after World War II.
The United States hopes to further expand the framework in particular with Japan as a key ally.
According to a U.S. government source Japan has become nearly the “sixth eye” for the five-nation alliance, given its proximity to China and North Korea and capabilities of collecting relevant information through satellites and signals intelligence.