The "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance of English-speaking nations has joined hands with France, Japan and South Korea in an effort to restrain North Korea's provocations, government sources said Sunday.

With the expanded framework, the alliance comprising Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States together with the three new partners will strengthen intelligence activities that go beyond the analysis of North Korean ballistic missiles currently undertaken by Japan, South Korea and the United States, the sources said.

(North Korea's "super-large multiple rocket launchers" test-fired on Oct. 31, 2019.)[Korean Central News Agency/Kyodo]

Officials from the eight countries gathered last fall and discussed how best to collect information on North Korea, according to the Japanese and U.S. government sources.

The Five Eyes also have the idea of developing the partnership with the three countries into one that facilitates the exchange of intelligence on China's growing military muscle, the sources said.

Using the U.S. Seventh Fleet's flagship Blue Ridge, based in the Japanese port city of Yokosuka, as the command and coordination center, the eight countries have been monitoring activities at sea to prevent North Korean vessels from engaging in illicit ship-to-ship cargo transfers.

But until recently there was no framework for cooperation among their intelligence units.

The United States has sought to build the framework of "Five Eyes plus" with friendly countries to counter threats in new realms, including space and cybersecurity where China is also increasing its power.

On how to deal with Chinese cyberattacks, intelligence agencies of the five-nation alliance have held multiple meetings with France, Germany and Japan, the sources said.

The alliance has its roots in an intelligence-sharing agreement between Britain and the United States after World War II.

Especially with its key ally Japan, the United States is hoping to further expand the framework.

A U.S. government source has said Japan has become nearly the "sixth eye" for the five-nation alliance, given its proximity to China and North Korea and capabilities of collecting relevant information through satellites and signals intelligence.