On Tuesday, The United States approved the sale of four SM3 Block 2A missiles to Japan. The related hardware equipment, technical, engineering and logistics services will also be provided by the U.S. The consignment includes four SM3 interceptor Blocks, 2A systems and four MK29 launchers. The SM3 Block 2A missiles are manufactured by Raytheon Co. and BAE Systems. This deal will cost Japan a total of $ 133.3 million.
The U.S. State Department Official said the sale falls in line with President Trump’s commitment to provide additional defensive capabilities to treaty allies threatened by North Korea’s provocative behaviour. The State Department in a statement said, “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a major ally by providing it with an increased ballistic missile defence capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and the U.S. personnel stationed there.”
The SM 3 Block 2A is a modern standard missile designed with a larger body for better flight and range compared to the previous variants. It is used to intercept short to intermediate range ballistic missiles. The planning and construction began in 2006 as a cooperative development programme between Raytheon and Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. In a flight test conducted last year, the SM3 Block 2A missile failed to intercept a medium range ballistic missile. The U.S. forces plan to field the SM3 Block 2A missile in 2018.
The U.S. approval for the missiles to Japan came after North and South Korea’s diplomatic talks meet which was held on Tuesday in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Korea. The meeting led to North Korea agreeing to open the diplomatic hotline, sending a high ranking delegation of athletes and officials to the upcoming Winter Olympics and hold military talks to reduce hostility between the Nations.
North Korean delegates present at the meeting with South Korea, refused to discuss the topic of denuclearization. Ri Son Gwon, the Head of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (PRF) said all the North Korean weapons including atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles are aimed exclusively at the U.S. and will not pose as a threat to North Korea’s neighbours.