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Japan, South Korea and US to sign first joint intelligence sharing pact on 29 December

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27 December 2014

Japan, South Korea and the US would sign their first joint intelligence-sharing pact on 29 December to better cope with North Korea's increasing nuclear and missile threats, officials said 26 December, AFP reported.

The US has separate, bilateral intelligence-sharing agreements with Japan and South Korea, both US allies where thousands of US troops are stationed.

However, Tokyo and Seoul do not have such bilateral pacts, due partly to disputes stemming from Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

The two countries came near to forging an intelligence-sharing pact in 2012, but the move had to be dropped due to a backlash in South Korea.

In a statement, Seoul's defence ministry said, the latest initiative would see Japan and South Korea share intelligence only on North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes via the US.

The pact would allow a swift response from the three countries to any North Korean provocation at a time when its threats were growing following a third nuclear test in February 2013, the statement added.

Meanwhile, South Korea's labour ministry has ordered the shutting down of two nuclear reactors under construction to investigate the cause of a toxic gas leak that killed three workers, a local branch said on Saturday, english.yonhapnews.co.kr reported.

Three workers died yesterday possibly after inhaling toxic gas at the construction site of a nuclear reactor in Ulsan, about 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

According to the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co, it suspected nitrogen gas leaked from an underground cable caused the deaths.

The ministry assured cooperation with the occupational safety agency, the emergency management agency and police in a joint probe into the mishap. It would also summon officials at the state nuclear power company and contractors.

Yoo Han-bong, who leads the labor ministry's Ulsan branch, said it would promptly conduct an investigation and hold accountable those responsible for any irregularities, if discovered.

The 1,400 MW new New Gori No 3 reactor was 99 per cent complete for full operation scheduled for next June, and was undergoing a test run since last month for receiving approval of the state nuclear watchdog. The New Gori No 4 reactor was 98 per cent complete, and was slated for commencing commercial operations in 2016.





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