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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006

Pyongyang may hold secret info on missiles


Staff writer

Confidential data on a Defense Agency surface-to-air missile system may have been leaked to a group affiliated with the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun) in 1995, the Defense Agency said Tuesday.

Police reportedly obtained documents with the leaked data in a raid on the Science Technology Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Kwahyop), Chongryun's umbrella group, on a separate charge in October.

If the report proves correct, it is possible the data, which included figures on SAM capabilities, may have been handed over to North Korea. The data were marked "confidential" -- the lowest of the agency's three secrecy levels.

The Ground Self-Defense Force began deploying a medium-range SAM in 2003. But a Defense Agency official who briefed reporters claimed the data would not reveal the capabilities of the currently deployed medium-range SAM.

"But at that time, there was no such information disclosed to the public," the official said. "Although the leaked data were partial, it is a very serious situation."

According to the official, the Defense Agency provided a report on the SAM system, which was still in the research stage at the time, to Mitsubishi Electric Corp. for joint research.

Assuming that the defense agency would proceed to the development stage, Mitsubishi Electric created a simulator for the system.

In 1995, the company asked Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc. to prepare documents for an in-house presentation about the simulator, the official said.

MRI then subcontracted an outside computer software company, which is believed to be affiliated to Kwahyop, to create a demonstration program for the presentation, the official said.

The documents provided to the unnamed software company included the confidential data, the official said, adding that Mitsubishi Electric and MRI may have violated contracts agreed upon with the Defense Agency.

Koji Honryo, chief of MRI's public affairs division, claimed the institute did not know the software firm was affiliated to Chongryun's umbrella group.

Honryo refused further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Defense Agency said it is investigating the impact of the possible leak on the country's security, and how the data were allegedly leaked to Kwahyop.

Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said at a news conference Tuesday that the government will consider stricter measures to prevent similar disclosures.

"In Japan, people still lack awareness about gathering, analyzing and maintaining information on defense issues," Nukaga said. "It will be a big task for us because intelligence is the most important part of (maintaining) security."



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