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US, Palau to Build New Radar System in Pacific to Keep More Eyes on North Korea

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The Pentagon and Palau, a nation of more than 500 islands and islets in Oceania, have mutually agreed to install a radar system to help the US monitor the local air domain while respecting the integrity of the National Marine Sanctuary in Koror, Palau.

On Thursday, the Defense Department and Office of Palau President Tommy Remengesau said they were finalizing joint plans to install an unspecified radar system on the island chain, Channel News Asia reports. While the parties have agreed in principle to move forward with the plans, the radar’s geographic placement has yet to be solidified.

According to a Compact of Free Association signed by former President Bill Clinton on October 1, 1994, Palau does not maintain a military and is reliant on Washington for its defense needs. The island nation is approximately 1,300 kilometers southwest of Guam, a US territory that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recently threatened to strike with intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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“Installation of the radar systems will greatly enhance Palau’s surveillance and enforcement of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary,” a statement from Remengesau’s office reads. The project promises to bring economic opportunities for “Palauan citizens to construct and operate the sites and training for Palauan officials to interpret and make use of the collected maritime data,” the statement added.

Negotiations for the proposal began July 18 for the reception of one Air Domain Awareness (ADA) tower and one Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), a DoD announcement says. US Defense officials arrived in Palau August 16 to discuss the plans with local stakeholders. The next day, technical teams from both sides convened to discuss the plan’s details.

“Palau and the US agreed to narrow down the scope of the remaining details, which, due to their sensitive nature cannot be disclosed at this time, according to Palau’s Press Secretary Olkeriil Kazuo,” the August 22 release states.

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“This project is essential to the well-being of the Republic of Palau’s air and maritime domains, as well as to the ability of the United States to maintain its defense of the Republic of Palau. The sites provided, which have yet to be finalized, have been chosen with an eye on minimizing environmental impacts,” the announcement said.

Palau was a United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Ocean following World War Two and was administered by the US until Washington recognized Palau as an independent nation in 1994, according to the US State Department.

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