Less than a day after breakthrough talks between North and South Korea, the U.S. announced Wednesday the sale $130 million in ballistic missile technology to Japan, threatening to upend the Peninsula’s newfound detente.
The State Department asked Congress to approve the sale of four missiles and related hardware that can be launched from sea or land to protect Japan from the North Korean threat.
Officials said the transaction followed through on “President Trump’s commitment to provide additional defensive capabilities to treaty allies threatened by the DPRK’s provocative behavior.”
The missiles will have a longer range and a wider capability to intercept than Japan’s current missile defense system.
The decision comes amid an unexpected thawing of relations between North and South Korea.
The two rivals held diplomatic talks Tuesday, with North Korea agreeing to continue dialogue to avoid conflict and prevent an accidental war.
Pyongyang also agreed to send a delegation of athletes and officials to the Winter Olympics in the South in February. President Moon Jae-in responded Wednesday, saying he is open to a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
However, the sale will be viewed in Pyongyang as a continuation of Washington’s hardlines stance towards the rogue state.
It emerged this week the White House is considering a “bloody nose” approach to North Korea in which the U.S. would launch a limited strike against a weapons facility in retaliation to another missile test — a strategy that could lead to all-out war.