Tokyo is boosting its ballistic missile defense shield after fears that Pyongyang is rolling out weapons with ‘unusual trajectory’ to pierce right through it.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon greenlit the sale of 73 Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missiles to Japan, which are already used in the nation’s anti-ballistic missile defense shield. The previous sales of the SM-3s to Tokyo were cleared by the US in November and April.
Japan has been beefing up its defenses in recent years amid growing tensions around the Korean Peninsula. Officials expressed concerns as to whether the country remains safe from warheads coming from Pyongyang in case of a possible armed conflict.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya warned about the “irregular and lower-than-usual flight path” of the two short-range missiles North Korea had reportedly launched into the Sea of Japan last week. The North Koreans hope that the unusual trajectory will make the missiles harder to intercept, he said, adding that there is “a good chance” Pyongyang can apply similar technology to longer-range nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang has maintained that it is its sovereign right to conduct missile tests, saying it only tests weapons for self-defense.