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Russia building “nuclear base” on Etorofu Island ahead of Abe-Putin summit

Russia’s transport of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Poland and Lithuania on Oct. 8 came as a major shock to the U.S. Department of Defense. It is making similar moves in the Northern Territories. Russian nuclear-powered submarines are test-firing three ballistic missiles a day, demonstrating the capability to launch strategic attacks on the U.S. from the Sea of Okhotsk.


Intimidation with nuclear weapons has now become the main theme of Putin’s diplomacy and this constitutes the biggest obstacle to the Abe administration’s negotiations with Russia on the territorial issue.


The Pentagon has warned Japanese Defense Ministry officials visiting the U.S. that “Etorofu Island has become the most important military stronghold in the Far East which controls the Okhotsk Sea.”


The U.S. has learned from spy satellite data that massive military materials are being moved to Etorofu. While it has not been determined if nuclear materials are included, movements of materials needed for the docking of large nuclear submarines and for facilities relating to long-range missile launching pads have been detected. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced in late March that a large naval base will be constructed on the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri in the Northern Territories.


Since then, the Pentagon has designated Etorofu as a top priority surveillance area. If a Russian naval base is built there, it will become an operational base for launching ballistic missiles from Russian nuclear submarines.


A senior official of the Japanese Defense Ministry explains, “Naval supremacy in the Okhotsk Sea with nuclear submarines is the ultimate operational base for Russia to attack the U.S. Even if Russia’s nuclear capability on land is completely wiped out, it will still be possible to launch nuclear attacks on the U.S. mainland as long as the nuclear submarines survive.”


Amid this situation, the Pentagon obtained a piece of shocking information on top secret Japan-Russia negotiations leaked from the Kantei (Prime Minister’s Official Residence).


“If Russia returns the Northern Territories, they should not be covered by the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.”


In the behind-the-scenes negotiations on the return of Habomai and Shikotan ahead of the two other islands, Russia reportedly demanded a secret provision on the demilitarization of the two islands – meaning no military facilities on these islands – in exchange for recognizing Japan’s administrative rights. The Kantei has obviously denied this, but the biggest concern for the Putin administration is the presence of U.S. military bases in the Northern Territories as frontline bases against Russia. Unless Japan compromises on this demand, it will be absolutely impossible for the Putin administration to return the islands.


However, if Japan accepts such a demand, it will constitute a betrayal of the Japan-U.S. alliance. A Japanese Defense Ministry source reveals that the U.S. administration, which is critical of the talks on the return of the Northern Territories, has so far acquiesced in the recent negotiations because it is “hoping to set up highly sophisticated radar facilities on the returned islands” to counter the Russian military’s rapid fortification of the Okhotsk Sea. The situation is such that the U.S.’s hopes are completely shattered.


A senior Pentagon official apparently warned a former Japanese Foreign Ministry official by saying: “Have you forgotten that the attack on Pearl Harbor started from the Hitokappu Bay [in Etorofu]?” (Abridged)

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