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The US military will serve as an intermediary between US treaty allies Japan and South Korea in order to better share classified intelligence information on nuclear developments and missile threats posed by North Korea, according to a formal agreement between the three countries announced just before the New Year. The agreement creates a “framework” through which the Defense Department, the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, and Japan’s Ministry of Defense can pass classified data such as imagery, electronic intercepts, human intelligence specifically related to North Korea’s nuclear program, missiles, and “protection requirements” of US agreements with both Japan and South Korea. The deal marks progress on efforts to get the two US allies to cooperate more closely with regards to regional security matters, despite longstanding tensions. The agreement will allow for a “more effective response” to future North Korean provocations and during contingencies, the Pentagon claimed. The US recently agreed to expand missile defense cooperation with South Korea as it builds its own missile defense system, and another AN/TPY-2 missile defense radar was recently deployed to Japan to boost existing radar coverage.