Seoul, Tokyo exchange info directly in exercise

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Seoul, Tokyo exchange info directly in exercise

Seoul and Tokyo engaged in sharing of information during a recent multinational war game led by the United States simulating an attack by a North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), according to a South Korean defense official Sunday.

The five-day missile defense exercise, called the Nimble Titan 16, took place from Feb. 1 and was led by the U.S. Strategic Command, said military officials. The drill was a show of cooperation among over 20 nations.

The Nimble Titan exercise tests the participating countries’ cooperation in information sharing, offensive operations and anticipatory self defense. It was begun in 2008 and South Korea joined the drills in 2011.

Countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada were partnered on one team, and South Korea and Japan were paired together to detect a simulated North Korean attack and deter it.

This year’s war game simulated an SLBM launch by North Korea and particularly tested defense teamwork between Seoul and Tokyo.

The drill came as Washington and Tokyo have been pressuring Seoul to sign a General Security of Military Information Agreement (Gsomia) with Japan. South Korea has been hesitant to sign onto a bilateral Gsomia to share intelligence directly with Tokyo, though it has agreed to a trilateral information-sharing agreement with Washington as an intermediary. A bilateral information-sharing agreement with Japan has been a sensitive issue for Korea in the past, and attempts to seal one have fallen through before.

Seoul and Tokyo have separate information-sharing agreements with Washington.

The wargame is also seen as an evaluation of Seoul and Tokyo’s capabilities in direct information-sharing without Washington acting as an intermediary in an emergency.

In its evaluation of the drill, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense emphasized the importance of bolstering intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities between allied partners to carry out attack operations in response to North Korea’s missile threat.

South Korean Defense Ministry, military and diplomatic officials as well as security analysts took part in the drill.

Seoul added that its military is planning to purchase ballistic missile defense international simulation, or BMD I-SIM, software to analyze the benefits of information-sharing.

BY SARAH KIM, JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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