Japan will permit the United States to sell to third-party nations an advanced missile interceptor that was collaboratively developed by the two allies, Kyodo News reported on Tuesday (see GSN, Jan. 13).
Tokyo and Washington are to talk over every proposed sale of the Standard Missile 3 Block 2A interceptor in order to remain in compliance with Japanese rules that bar weapons sales to outside nations, with the exception of arms jointly developed with the United States. Still, it is not apparent that Japan would be able to turn down U.S. requests to export the missile interceptor.
"It is extremely difficult to reject the request from the United States, with which we are bound in an alliance," a Tokyo source said. "Saying 'no' might result in negative repercussions on future joint development of equipment."
The Obama administration views the SM-3 Block 2A missile as a key part of its plan to field increasingly advanced sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe as a shield against potential missile strikes from the Middle East (see related GSN story, today). Standard Missile 3 interceptors are today fielded on Aegis-equipped warships and can target intermediate-range ballistic missiles, Kyodo reported. The United States intends to start fielding the Block 2A interceptor around Europe in 2018.
Tokyo is to inform Washington of its determination to permit the interceptor exports at a June meeting of their defense heads, insiders said.
The Kan government is conditioning acceptance of the interceptor exports on promises by the United States and buyer nations that they would not pass on the missiles to other countries. North Korea and other nations under U.N. sanctions would be prohibited from the outset from receiving the missiles, insiders said (Kyodo News/Japan Times, May 25).