Dempsey: Now is the time for missile defense architecture in Asia

The U.S. should seek a trilateral, collaborative ballistic missile defense architecture in Asia incorporating U.S., South Korean and Japanese military assets, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said Saturday.

Dempsey returned on Saturday from a weeklong trip to Northeast Asia during which he sought to strengthen allied capabilities against the sustained threat of North Korean nuclear attack. Dempsey visited Japan and South Korea and spoke to his counterparts about the establishment of a missile defense system.

Dempsey acknowledged the political friction between Japan and South Korea, some of it stemming from World War II.

"There are some historic sensitivities, there are some political dynamics," Dempsey said. "I'm not trying to suggest to either country's political leaders that they brush those aside at my request."

Dempsey proposed that the senior military officers of all three countries advise their political leaders to integrate missile and air defense systems that would link ground-based aerial and maritime assets from all three nations. Dempsey said the three nations should work together to focus on the prolonged threat of ballistic missiles from North Korea, which he said puts Japan, South Korea and the U.S. at risk.

Dempsey also visited China as part of an attempt to pursue the new relationship Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to in principle.