Monday Sep 17, 201207:58 AM GMT
US, Japan to expand joint missile system
A sea-based X-band radar system (file photo)
A sea-based X-band radar system (file photo)
Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:56AM
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The United States and Japan have agreed to expand a joint missile defense system in Japan by deploying a second X-band missile defense radar in the east Asian country.

The US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the plan on Monday after meeting his Japanese counterpart Satoshi Morimoto in Tokyo, adding the location of the installation was not determined, but would be in the country’s south.

"The purpose of this is to enhance our ability to defend Japan. It's also designed to help forward-deployed US forces," Panetta said in a press conference.

"It also will be effective in protecting the US homeland from the North Korean ballistic missile threat," he also said.

One American X-band radar is already in place at Japan's Shariki base in Tsugaru City. More than 47,000 American soldiers are also stationed in the Asian nation, with many of them in the southern island chain of Okinawa.

A US defense official once again said that the missile defenses were not directed at China but at North Korea. However, the move, which is part of the US plans to expand its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to draw condemnation from both North Korea and China.

Last month, Beijing voiced concerns over America’s plan to expand its missile system in the Asia-Pacific region. China had also opposed the first 2006 X-Band deployment in Japan.

The announcement came about two weeks after the US and South Korea conducted joint military exercises. Some 30,000 US troops and 56,000 South Korean soldiers took part in the drill. It is part of the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian aimed at displaying defense capabilities of the duo.

Tensions on the peninsula have heightened recently, following a move by North Korea in April to fire a rocket that the United States claimed was a "thinly-veiled ballistic missile test," banned by United Nations resolutions.

The rocket launch, however, failed as it reportedly broke up and crashed into the sea shortly after blast-off.

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