The United States has announced plans to install radar systems in Palau, a move that will increase its monitoring ability in the western Pacific region recently rocked by threats from North Korea.

In a joint statement, the US Defense Department and the Palau government said they were working to finalise the location of radar towers on the archipelago nation of 22,000 people.

“The radar systems will provide Palau enhanced maritime law enforcement capability… while also providing the US with greater air domain awareness for aviation safety and security,” they said in the statement dated Aug 21.

While Palau is an independent nation, it has no military and the US is responsible for its defence under an agreement with Washington.

Source: Agence France Presse

Why it’s on OUR radar: Despte the U.S.-Palau defense agreement, this isn’t about protecting the island nation as much as it’s about providing the U.S. with additional early warning of any potential North Korea missile launch. Geographically, Palau is situated due east of the Phillipines and 800 miles southwest of Guam, which will put it in an ideal location to track incoming missiles and provide areawide coverage and early warning for additional U.S. allies in the region. 

The agreement to place the radar system on Palau came before the recent threats from North Korea to launch at Guam, but given the latter’s strategic importance to regional military operations, the Pentagon was obviously anticipating the threat.