US to sell missiles worth over $133 mn to Japan

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Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missile.

The sale includes four Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missiles, four MK 29 missile canisters, and other support services, with a total estimated value of 133.3 million US dollars, said a State Department official in a statement.

In December, Japan chose to expand its ballistic missile defense system with Lockheed's ground-based Aegis in response to a growing threat from North Korean rockets.

Aegis vessels equipped with SM-3 interceptors form the main pillar of Japan's missile defense system. "It will also improve (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's) interoperability with USA missile defense systems, and increase the protection for U.S. installations in the region".

The department said the sale would support the US defense industry and underscore Trump's commitment to improve the defense of allies threatened by North Korea.

The announcement comes amid the much anticipated high-level talks between the Koreas on Tuesday. Those talks are also purportedly aimed at lessening military tensions on the peninsula.

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"The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche", declared the country's state media.

Throughout 2017, North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests despite constant criticism from the West and trade sanctions.

Last month, the Japanese government approved the purchase and deployment of two Aegis Ashore batteries at the cost of some $2 billion, including infrastructure, with each unit of the system accounting for at least $888 million.

Combining these new interceptors with the new system will enable Aegis destroyers stationed at a distance to shoot down missiles fired toward Japan. He argued that the continuation of a nuclear-armed North Korea was "absolutely unacceptable". ICBMs travel higher and faster and are more hard to counteract.

The new information exchange system, developed by the USA, will allow using radar data from a destroyer equipped with Aegis system in order to intercept missiles by another destroyer, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said.

US and Japanese military officials have been in constant communication since the current North Korean nuclear crisis heated up after North Korea tested its most powerful nuclear bomb yet on Sept 3, 2017.