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Delving deeper into significance of GSOMIA in terms of national security, geopolitics Updated: 2019-11-22 16:28:03 KST

With South Korea and Japan both being U.S. allies, their militaries have been sharing information under GSOMIA since it was signed three years ago.
According to Seoul's defense ministry, the two sides have exchanged intel eight times this year alone and 30 times from 2016 through this August.
Japan has provided Seoul with data gathered by its satellites regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles.
And for South Korea's part, of its three levels of classified military information, it's been sharing with Japan levels two and three.
The U.S. sees GSOMIA as a key element of its trilateral security cooperation with South Korea and Japan aimed at achieving the final, fully, verified denuclearization of North Korea as well as undermining China's influence in Northeast Asia.

"Right now it might seem like GSOMIA is not that useful since North Korea is not testing nuclear weapons or long-range missiles but until the complete denuclearization of the North it's imperative that related intel is readily shared. GSOMIA holds symbolic value in bolstering the trilateral security alliance and its termination would have sent the wrong message."

While it's undisputed that GSOMIA is emblematic of the alliance, among military circles its effectiveness is controversial in terms of actual intel sharing.
A South Korean military source said highly sensitive information, particularly those related to North Korea's missiles and nuclear weapons, is currently being collected using the strategic assets of the three countries which are then analyzed by the U.S. to be shared with its allies.
Compared to this trilateral sharing process, according to the official, direct intel sharing between South Korea and Japan is limited.
Local media outlets in South Korea have cited the Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement or TISA which was signed in 2014 and includes the U.S. as an intermediary could have been strengthened after the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae hinted in August that it would use TISA as an alternative to GSOMIA.
One the main advantages GSOMIA holds over TISA, though, is that it's recognized as a treaty and the parties are legally bound to protect the confidential information exchanged whereas TISA is not legally binding and not recognized under international law.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.
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