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Iran Press TV

US approves sale of anti-ballistic missiles to Japan: Official

Iran Press TV

Wed Jan 10, 2018 04:56AM

The US has approved a $133.3 million sale of anti-ballistic missiles to Japan to defend itself against what Washington says is a growing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea, a State Department official says.

The State Department on Tuesday notified Congress of the matter, asking it to approve the sale of the four missiles for the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor.

The official told Fox News that "also included are four Mk 29 missile canisters, and other technical, engineering and logistics support services."

The sale of the missiles follows through "on President Trump's commitment to provide additional defensive capabilities to treaty allies threatened by the DPRK's provocative behavior," the official noted.

The proposed sale, if concluded, would contribute to the US "foreign policy and national security interests," the officials said.

"It will bolster the security of a major treaty ally that has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It will also improve (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's) interoperability with US missile defense systems, and increase the protection for US installations in the region."

The missiles, made by Raytheon Co and BAE Systems, can be launched from destroyers at sea or from a land-based system.

In December, Japan formally decided to expand its ballistic missile system using US-made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors.

The cost of building two Aegis Ashore batteries without the missiles would be at least $2 billion and it was not likely to be operational until 2023 at the earliest, sources familiar with the plan told Reuters in December.

In a phone call on Monday, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera "condemned North Korea's reckless and unlawful behavior," according to a Pentagon statement.

This comes as North and South Korea held their first talks in more than two years with the purpose of resolving the crisis over the North's nuclear missile program.

Representatives from North and South Koreas began direct talks on Tuesday behind closed doors at the Peace House in the Joint Security Area in the truce village of Panmunjom, at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the divided countries.

The two Koreas have long had strained ties. Tensions recently skyrocketed with repeated North Korean missile and nuclear tests and increased South Korean joint military action with the United States.

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