TOKYO, May 25 (UPI) -- Japan is preparing to approve U.S. export of their jointly developed sea-based ballistic missile interceptors to third countries, sources told Kyodo News.
Such a decision by the Japanese government, to be communicated to the United States at next month's meeting of their defense heads, would mean a relaxation of the country's ban on arms exports, the sources told Kyodo News.
The decision relates to the new Block 2A type of the Standard Missile-3 interceptor, which are fired from ships specially quipped air defense systems, to knock out intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
The Kyodo report said the two sides will discuss export of each interceptor to comply with Japan's export controls.
The United States, which is Japan's closest ally, plans to begin deploying the SM-3 system in 2018 and wants Japan to relax its export controls largely to shield Europe from Iranian missiles.
Kyodo's sources said Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration would require Washington and its destination countries to ensure no transfer to other nations. North Korea, Iraq and any other country that is under U.N. sanctions would automatically be ruled out of the export provision.