Japan placed an order for the Aegis Ashore missile defence system earlier this month amid threats from North Korea (DPRK). But, this move by Tokyo has irked the Russians as they seem to believe that the US is working with Tokoyo and storing cruise missiles in the Aegis Ashore missile silos.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet passed the motion to purchase two batteries of the defensive missile system that can counter ballistic missiles and protect the entire Japanese territory.
In the wake of this news, Russia has now claimed that if the Japanese raise missile platforms on land that would be a "violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) by the U.S. with practical assistance from Japan".
treaties and this could destabilise the Japan-Russia diplomatic relations, says a report by Popular Mechanics (PM). Reports that the Aegis Ashore systems can, indeed store and launch Tomahawk cruise missiles are, at best sketchy, notes the PM report.
Japan is well within striking range of North Korean missiles and this move to arm itself with defensive systems should not really come as a surprise. The DPRK has been busy this year, building and testing ballistic missiles, both nuclear and conventional. Only a few months back, residents of several Japanese cities were awoken to loud, blaring horns that warned of a missile strike. A September CNN report detailed how there were two such incidents within the span of a month in the country.
Japan is already equipped with off-shore Aegis defence systems with several of their Naval destroyers outfitted and ready. Aegis systems make use of SPY-1 radar and SM-3 ballistic missile interceptors and are designed to shoot down ballistic missiles when they are in their mid-course phase.
Now that the Chinese Navy is also working on their own navy and expanding its capabilities, the PM report notes that the Japanese destroyers are needed elsewhere. This is one of the reasons why on-shore Aegis systems are required. Aegis Ashore, notes PM comes with radar and Mk. 41 missile silos for housing SM-3 missile interceptors.
However, Russia seems to have a problem with these silos because they feel it can be used to fire offensive missiles like the US-made Tomahawks. They are pointing out to the 1987 Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces which bans both countries from deploying ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles having a range between 310 and 3,400 miles. The treaty allows the USSR (now Russia) and the US to launch long-range missiles from the sea.
Japan, however, does not come under this treaty, notes the report, but a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman described the Aegis Ashore deal as, a new violation of the INF by Washington with assistance from Tokoyo, reports PM.
The report also mentions that while it is theoretically possible to launch Tomahawks from Mk. 41 silos, the software that is used for both systems are different and incompatible. Also, Aegis Ashore is a strictly defensive system and cannot be used to attack.
This, however, has not stopped the Russian propaganda machine from fanning theories that are, realistically impossible to prove or disprove, mentions PM.
IB Times UK has not been able to independently verify the claims made.