16 February 2013

Agreements boost Indo-Bangla relations

Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

16 February 2013

India and Bangladesh relations got a major boost following the signing of two agreements, an extradition treaty and a liberalised visa agreement between the two neighbouring countries. The two agreements were the outcome of the meeting between the home ministers of the two countries held in Dhaka in January 2013. 

Signing of the two agreements has improved cooperation between the neighbours and brought back momentum in the relationship which was severely affected due to non'signing of the water'sharing agreement of Teesta River and the transit treaty during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh in September 2011. 

The extradition treaty will facilitate deportation of wanted criminals hiding or residing in each other's countries. It will allow transfer of convicted and undertrial criminals. It will be applicable for people who are charged with crimes like murders, culpable homicide and other serious offences. People accused of offences of political nature do not fall within the ambit of this treaty. Offenders of small crimes awarded with less than one year of imprisonment also do not fall within the purview the treaty. 

Reciprocity is the key for success of any extradition treaty. An extradition treaty enables one country to arrest or even try one individual persons for offences committed in the signatory country. India presently has extradition treaties with 28 nation states. The treaty has brought to light Bangladesh's ardent aspiration to be treated equally and accept issues that benefit its purpose. Despite India's consistent efforts in expressing its respect to Bangladesh's status as an equal sovereign country, many in Bangladesh feel that India behaves like a big brother and does not give the country its due. 

UN chief urges India, Pak to exercise restraint

16 February 2013 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and resolve issues peacefully after a Pakistani soldier who intruded into the Indian territory was killed by the Indian Army along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters here yesterday that the UN Chief was aware of the latest incident on February 14 at the LoC in which the Pakistani soldier, after intruding into Indian territory in a fresh incident of ceasefire violation, was killed by the Indian troops.

"The Secretary-General has repeatedly called on all concerned to exercise restraint and solve issues peacefully," Nesirky said when asked if Ban had a comment on the fresh incident along the Indian-Pakistan border.

The incident comes over a month after tensions erupted between the two nuclear-armed neighbours after Pakistani troops entered Indian territory and killed two Indian soldiers, beheading one of them.

In the latest ceasefire violation, the Pakistani soldier opened indiscriminate fire injuring two jawans after he was challenged by a patrol party.

In the ensuing encounter the soldier was killed and one AK-56 rifle and some ammunition were recovered from him.

Chinese dams worry Arunachal

16 February 2013

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki said Saturday he would ask the central government to look into China constructing three hydropower projects on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet. 

"China building the three dams will affect the interest of people in the downstream areas. We will soon move New Delhi to take up this issue with China in the interest of the people," Tuki told IANS.

He added: "It is a cause of concern for us but we are not certain how big these dams are..."

The 2,906-km-long Brahmaputra - called Tsangpo in Tibet - is one of Asia's longest rivers that traverses 1,625 km through Tibet, 918 km in India and 363 km in Bangladesh before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

China's plan to build the dams over the Brahmaputra river and diverting water into its arid provinces has been opposed by state governments in India's northeast.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting him to take up the matter regarding the construction of the three dams on the Brahmaputra with Beijing.

"We can't do anything if China is building dams. Our concern is that the lives of the people in the downstream should not be affected by the dams," Tuki said.

My Take on Copter Scam

Paper No. 5398 16-Feb-2013 

By B.Raman 

1.The 12 AgustaWestland helicopters ordered for the Air Force for VVIP duties were meant for use by the Special Protection Group (SPG) for the transport of SPG protectees and also for the transport of other VVIPs not entitled to SPG protection. 

While the Air Force was responsible for the procurement of the best copters available and for their maintenance and for providing the crew for manning them, the SPG was responsible for indicating to the Air Force before the procurement the minimum safety and comfort requirements that must be met by the copters. 

2. All that the late Shri Brajesh Mishra, the then National Security Adviser, reportedly did in 2003 was to point out in file that the inputs from the SPG had not been adequately reflected in working out the minimum requirements that the copters should meet. He did the right thing in doing so and it would be absurd on the part of anyone to contend that his action contributed the first step in the chain of wrong-doing relating to the final procurement that came about in 2010. 

3.The wrong-doing came about during the subsequent action on the contract for finalizing the financial and other details. It would seem that someone in India as well as abroad claimed credit for bringing about the changes in the minimum requirements consequent upon the action of Shri Mishra and made illegal financial gains. 

4.The copter scam brings to mind the Bofors scam of the 1980s when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister. When the first details of the Bofors scam emerged in 1987,it became apparent that a small group of persons close to Rajiv Gandhi in India and Europe had financially benefitted from the contract. 

5.Instead of ascertaining the truth, the Government of Rajiv Gandhi entered into a huge charade to prevent the truth from coming out. While making a huge pretense of having the matter investigated through the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and enquired into by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, the Government actually tried to have the illegalities covered up. 

India and France sign Rs 30,000-cr missile deal

Tribune News Service 

February 14,2013
  • To co-produce surface-to-air missile
  • To expedite talks on Rafale fighter jet
Rafale deal on track
  • The two countries were on the track to ink the mega deal for 126 Rafale MMRCA for the IAF
  • Talks marked months of disagreements over the cost of building them in India
  • The talks have progressed slowly because of differences of opinion over technology transfer, sourcing of spares and the selection of an Indian partner
  • However, the joint statement said the two sides noted the ongoing progress of negotiations and look forward to their early conclusion 
Consolidating their strategic partnership, India and France today announced conclusion of negotiations to jointly produce the short range surface-to-air missile and committed themselves to speeding up negotiations on the $10 billion deal for Rafale aircraft and on the setting up of six European Power Reactors (EPRs) at Jaitapur as part of bilateral civil nuclear cooperation. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held wide-ranging talks with visiting French President Francois Hollande here this afternoon after which the two countries signed nearly two dozen documents for cooperation in fields like education, culture, space and railways. 

“We have concluded negotiations on the short range surface-to-air missile, which, once approved by the government, will be co-developed and co-produced in India,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced at a joint media interaction with the French leader. 

The two countries had been discussing the surface-to-air missile, named ‘maitri’ (friendship) for more than five years. India’s DRDO and France’s MBDA are likely to jointly develop this system, which was initially expected to cost about $ 1.60 billion. However, its cost is likely to go up manifold now. The system would be deployed by the IAF and the Navy. 

The PLA Prepares for Future Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations

February 15, 2013

By: Michael S. Chase

The Y-20 in Flight 

China’s Ministry of National Defense recently announced that the first test flight of its Y-20 large transport aircraft took place on January 26. The development and testing of the Y-20 reflects the PLA Air Force’s determination to enhance its strategic projection capabilities. As PLA National Defense University (NDU) professor Liang Fang put it, "along with the expansion of our national interest, the heavy air freighters will ensure that we are able to safeguard our interests overseas” (China Daily, January 28; Ministry of National Defense, January 28). The protection of China’s growing overseas interests is emerging as an increasingly high-profile problem for Beijing—one with important implications for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as reflect by the development of the Y-20. According to Gu Weijun, a researcher with the PLA’s Academy of Military Science (AMS), “economic ‘going global’ requires military ‘going global’ as escorts, and in the future, it will be inevitable for China to use its troops overseas” (Global Times, June 29, 2010). One important way in which China may need to address this problem is by being prepared to evacuate its citizens from foreign countries in times of turmoil. Recent events demonstrate the salience of this problem. According to Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Yue Yucheng, “The three overseas evacuations from Egypt, Libya and Japan evacuated a total of 48,000 Chinese citizens—five times the number of Chinese personnel evacuated from overseas over the last 30 years” (Foreign Affairs Review, November 2011). 

Following these evacuations, the possibility that Beijing will need to organize similar missions to safely withdraw its citizens from precarious situations overseas in the future appears to be growing. Two trends are contributing to the increasing likelihood that China will need to execute such evacuation missions in the future. First, Chinese workers are going abroad in growing numbers, and many are concentrated in potentially dangerous and unstable areas of the globe.

Malaysia denies entry to Australian senator

Kuala Lumpur
February 16, 2013 

Malaysia turned away an Australian senator who flew to the Southeast Asian country on Saturday to highlight his concerns about upcoming elections, calling him a security risk who had broken Malaysian law by attending an illegal street rally. 

Nick Xenophon, an independent South Australia state senator, had planned to meet with Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, a Cabinet minister and electoral activists to discuss transparency issues for national elections that must be held by the end of June. 

Immigration Director Gen. Alias Ahmad said in a government-issued statement that Xenophon was barred because he was at a banned Kuala Lumpur demonstration last year. 

“Malaysia is a free and democratic country, but no one is above the law,” the statement said. “Authorities will take the appropriate action against any individual deemed to have violated national laws.” 

Mr. Xenophon said the action “confirms our concerns about the situation in Malaysia.” 

“Apparently I’m persona non grata. I’m said to be a security risk,” Mr. Xenophon told the AP by telephone from an airport holding room. “This is extraordinary.” 

Mr. Xenophon visited Kuala Lumpur last April as a foreign observer at a rally where police used tear gas to disperse tens of thousands of Malaysians who demanded sweeping changes to electoral policies that they say are manipulated to favour Prime Minister Najib Razak’s long-ruling coalition. 

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Mr. Xenophon’s detention “is a surprising and disappointing act from a country with which Australia routinely maintains strong diplomatic relations.” 

Mr Anwar called Mr Xenophon’s detention “a gross abuse of power,” while Lim Chee Wee, president of the Malaysian Bar, which comprises more than 12,000 lawyers, said it was “shameful” and “absurd,” adding that authorities “owe an unreserved apology” to the senator. 

Iran not seeking nuclear weapons: Khamenei

February 16, 2013 

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaks to the crowd in Tehran, on Saturday. Photo:AP 

"We don’t want to build atomic weapons. But if we didn’t believe so and intended to possess nuclear weapons, no power could stop us," he said. 

Iran’s supreme leader said on Saturday that his country is not seeking nuclear weapons, but that no world power could stop Tehran’s access to an atomic bomb if it intended to build one. 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, told a group of Iranians at his home in the Iranian capital, Tehran, that his country backs the elimination of nuclear weapons. 

“We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don’t want to build atomic weapons. But if we didn’t believe so and intended to possess nuclear weapons, no power could stop us,” the Ayatollah said in comments posted on his website, khamenei.ir. 

Iran recently has highlighted a religious decree the Ayatollah issued more than seven years ago that bans nuclear weapons in an effort to back up its claim that Tehran’s nuclear programme is being used for peaceful purposes and medical research. Iran authorities often cite the decree to counter Western suspicions that Iran could ultimately move toward an atomic bomb. 

Meteorite explodes over Russia, more than 1,000 injured

By Andrey Kuzmin
16 Feb 2013

CHELYABINSK, Russia (Reuters) - A meteorite streaked across the sky and exploded over central Russia on Friday, raining fireballs over a vast area and causing a shock wave that smashed windows, damaged buildings and injured 1,200 people. 

People heading to work in Chelyabinsk heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt the shock wave, according to a Reuters correspondent in the industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow. 

The fireball, travelling at a speed of 30 km (19 miles) per second according to Russian space agency Roscosmos, had blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail that could be seen as far as 200 km (125 miles) away. 

Car alarms went off, thousands of windows shattered and mobile phone networks were disrupted. The Interior Ministry said the meteorite explosion, a very rare spectacle, also unleashed a sonic boom. 

"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it were day," said Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains. 

"I felt like I was blinded by headlights." 

The World in Photos This Week

FEBRUARY 15, 2013

The pope resigns; North Korea tests nukes again; and MPs toss some pancakes. 

On Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI made the surprise announcement that he would be resign as leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics later this month because his advanced age was preventing him from carrying out his duties. Above, lightning strikes St. Peter's dome at the Vatican on the day of the announcement. For a look at how the next pope will be chosen and who the frontrunners for the job are, see this article by Daniel Williams and FP's guide to the top candidates for the position


Pakistan says slain soldier lost his way, warns India

Return to frontpage
February 16, 2013 

By Anita Joshua 

Pakistan on Friday described the killing of its soldier who “inadvertently” crossed the Line of Control (LoC) as a violation of the bilateral understanding on inadvertent crossers, and warned that the incident could further vitiate the atmosphere between the two countries.

In a statement, the Foreign Office strongly condemned the killing of the soldier by the Indian Army on Thursday in the Khoi Ratta sector along the LoC. “The killing of our soldier who had lost his way and inadvertently crossed the LoC goes against the understanding reached between Pakistan and India on speedy return of inadvertent line crossers and has the potential to further vitiate the atmosphere.”

Pakistan also asked India to carry out a thorough investigation into the incident. According to the Pakistan Army, the soldier — Sepoy Ikhlaq — lost his way between two posts and crossed over the LoC. From the Army’s account, Pakistan’s contention is that the solider was first questioned by Indians and then killed as some civilians were witness to him being interrogated.

High Drama in Male: India Intervenes

Paper No. 5397 ,15-Feb-2013 

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan. 

Former President Mohamed Nasheed took refuge in the Indian High Commission's premises at Male on 13th Feb following an arrest warrant issued by the Hulhulumale magistrate’s court to bring him before the court by 4.30 PM the same day. 

Nasheed himself tweeted the same after noon that ""Mindful of my own security and stability in the Indian Ocean, I have taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Maldives." 

The Police surrounded the High Commission but could not enter the building to effect the arrest. 

India confirmed the very same day that former President Mohamed Nasheed has requested India’s assistance after police sought to arrest him. 

The Indian government promptly issued a statement that said "As a close and friendly neighbour, India has expressed concern over the ongoing political instability in Maldives and called upon the government and all political parties to adhere strictly to democratic principles and the rule of law, thereby paving the way for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections," the Indian Government said in a statement this evening. 

"Following the arrest warrant issued against him by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, the former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, who is a candidate for the Presidential elections in Maldives scheduled for September 2013, is in the Indian High Commission and has sought India’s assistance. We are in touch with the relevant Maldivian authorities to resolve the situation," the statement added. 

"Now that the President of the Election Commission of Maldives has announced that Presidential elections would be held on 7 September 2013, it is necessary that the Presidential nominees of recognised political parties be free to participate in the elections without any hindrance. Prevention of participation by political leaders in the contest would call into question the integrity of the electoral process, thereby perpetuating the current political instability in Maldives." 

Maldives crisis is a test for India

Feb 15, 2013 

Former Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed, who was dislodged a year ago in what appeared to be a soft coup behind which were the country’s Islamist forces and influential sections of the police and military establishment, dashed into the Indian high commission on Wednesday to evade arrest and sought refuge. This was granted, but the mission was taken by surprise, just as it had been when Mr Nasheed was ousted. This shows that Indian diplomatic representatives in Male continue to be behind the curve.

Frankly, this is surprising. Indian influence in Male — and not just with those who might be in power — should have been self-evident. But it is not although New Delhi shores up the Maldives with aid in many sectors, takes care of its debt, helps balance its budget, and assists with military communication. In the past, it has also protected the tiny country of hundreds of islands when foreign buccaneers have tried to take it over.

Mr Nasheed has made a smart move. India was in no position to deny sanctuary to the former President who is the father of democracy in his country and was deposed by his opponents and ambitious colleagues. Having given him shelter, it is automatically involved in the politics surrounding Mr Nasheed, whether this is to its liking or not.

New Delhi has rightly taken the view that any move to arrest the former leader and prevent him from contesting the election due later this year will call the fairness of the election into question. Should that turn out to be the case, the Maldives could be denied international aid from democratic quarters. But Male might be inclined to worry less about this aspect than might have been the case before. The reason is Beijing’s wooing of the Maldives, especially in the past year, the time period that coincides with the forced ejection of Mr Nasheed from the presidency.

How India handles the Maldives affair is doubtless being watched in the region. The other South Asian countries will take away their own lesson about Indian capabilities from this case. New Delhi cannot, of course, be ham-handed. But with all the subtlety it commands, it should make certain that the current President, Mr Mohammed Waheed, and his friends get the message that cocking a snook will come with a cost.

Pakistan successfully tests nuclear-capable Hatf-II missile

15 February 2013 

Pakistan today successfully tested the nuclear-capable Hatf-II ballistic missile with a range of 180 kms, marking the second test of a missile system in four days as part of measures to evaluate the capabilities of its Strategic Forces. 

The test of the Hatf-II or Abdali short range surface-to-surface ballistic missile was part of the "process of validation of land-based ballistic missile systems", the military said in a statement.

It described the test as successful but did not say where it was conducted.

The missile can carry nuclear or conventional warheads with "high accuracy", the statement said.

"The weapon system with its varied manoeuvrability options provides an operational level capability to Pakistan’s Strategic Forces," it said.

On February 11, Pakistan tested the nuclear-capable Hatf-IX tactical missile with a range of 60 kms.

The military had said the weapon system was specially designed to defeat anti-tactical missile defence systems.

Analysts say the short-range Hatf-IX missile is primarily aimed at deterring India's Cold Start military doctrine, which envisages quick thrusts by small integrated battle groups in the event of hostilities.

Today's test was witnessed by Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne, Strategic Plans Division Director General Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Army Strategic Forces Command chief Lt Gen Tariq Nadeem Gilani, senior officers from the Strategic Forces and scientists and engineers of strategic organizations.

Premvir Das: The Chinese are coming?

By Premvir Das
February 14, 2013

There is no reason to overreact to Chinese moves in the Indian Ocean 

Gwadar, a port in western Pakistan in the news recently, has been developed through Chinese assistance worth $200 million. The work must have involved dredging to some reasonable depth (not less than 12 metres) and building container terminals as well as associated facilities such as cranes, warehouses, etc. Reports indicate that some specifically naval infrastructure has also been built. Management of this fledgling port was outsourced to a Singapore company, but has reportedly run into some trouble. There have been issues regarding transfer of land by naval authorities and the company has sought to withdraw from the agreement. It is not unusual for countries that lack the required managerial know-how to outsource management of ports to foreign agencies proficient in such work. Approval has now been accorded, although “in principle”, to a company from China, Chinese Overseas Port Holdings, to replace the Singapore firm. Apparently, the Chinese dithered for more than a year before coming on board; and it may take some more time before things actually begin to move on the ground. The port’s operations have reportedly been languishing, and the new arrangement is expected to give fresh impetus to the project.

Inevitably, this impending change of management in Gwadar, along with port development in some other Indian Ocean littorals through Chinese aid – Sri Lanka and Myanmar, to name two – has revived talk of the hackneyed term “String of Pearls”. The suggestion is that these assisted projects will, in due course, lead to comprehensive naval facilities, which China might be allowed to use for its forward naval presence and operations in the Indian Ocean. The corollary of this assumption is that the countries benefiting from such assistance will happily allow more or less permanent location of Chinese naval and aviation assets – the two are linked – in their territories.

The ground realities are not so simplistic. Development of major ports from the ordinary fishing harbours that these villages were is no easy task; it involves creation of a range of complex infrastructure apart from ensuring placid and calm waters. Neither Gwadar nor any of the other two ports are naturally protected bays; not only do they require considerable dredging to provide the type of depths that will permit large merchant ships and oil tankers to come and go but also physical protection, known as breakwaters, without which the necessary tranquillity of water cannot be ensured. It was only after full and careful technical examination of the pros and cons that India had decided against bidding for Hambantota port development project in Sri Lanka. The Chinese came in for different reasons but will find, in due course, just as the Sri Lankans will, that creation of a viable major facility there is easier said than done. Much the same can be said of Gwadar.

Commentary: Time to address root causes of nuclear crisis on Korean Peninsula

By Xinhua, 
February 12, 2013

Despite deep concern of the international community, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) went ahead with its third nuclear test on Tuesday. 

Pyongyang said it conducted the third underground nuclear test to defend its national security and sovereignty against hostile U.S. policies and protest against a UN Security Council resolution, pushed through by Washington last month to punish the DPRK for its satellite launch in December. 

In no time, the nuclear test has drawn condemnation from its rival camp. The United States slamed the nuclear test as "highly provocative," Japan said it would mull imposing unilateral sanctions on the DPRK while South Korea vowed to seek all measures to deter Pyongyang's nuclear ambition. 

At a superficial level, it was Pyongyang that has repteatedly breached UN resolutions and used its nuclear program as a weapon to challenge the world community, which was considered to be unwise and regrettable. 

In reality, the DPRK's defiance was deeply rooted in its strong sense of insecurity after years of confrontation with South Korea, Japan and a militarily more superior United States. 

In the eyes of the DPRK, Washington has spared no efforts to contain it and flexed its military muscle time and again by holding joint military drills with South Korea and Japan in the region. 

The latest nuclear test is apparently another manifestation of the attempt of a desperate DPRK to keep threat at bay. 

At the same time, the escalating tensions also has highlighted the importance of trust building and the need of concrete and sincere efforts by all sides to prevent spiraling deterioration of the situation on the peninsular and any disastrous consequences. 

China at sea: Wake up, Australia!

By Raoul Heinrichs 
7 February 2013

For Australia, the principal threat posed by the growth of China's military power is not yet to its direct strategic interests but rather to the US-led order from which much of Australia's security derives. 

As China's ongoing accumulation of advanced air, maritime and surveillance capabilities hollows out US military dominance, hitherto the defining feature of Asia's order, the benign regional dynamics which have resulted from that order, and from which Australia has benefited for so long, are being eroded, seemingly faster than many anticipated, in at least three mutually reinforcing ways. 

First, having imposed new limits on America's capacity for intervention in the Western Pacific, China has greater latitude to resort to coercion in its dealings with lesser regional powers. Beijing's recent management of its territorial disputes with Japan and the countries of Southeast Asia – in which more aggressive patrolling by Chinese ships and aircraft, backed by the latent capacity for escalation dominance, is being used to establish more favourable terms – reflects the extent to which this dynamic is already underway. 

Second, the US is increasingly unable to preserve its preponderant power, much less deploy it in ways that dampen strategic competition, as it has for decades. No longer able to fulfil its self-appointed role as regional pacifier, Washington is instead becoming a direct participant in the kind of strategic competition that its power has traditionally been used to ameliorate, with the 'pivot' (or 'rebalance') exemplifying the trend. 

Finally, patterns of balancing among lesser states – both through tighter strategic relations with the US and each other and, to a lesser extent, through military acquisition – are becoming more urgent and pronounced, contributing to the overall deterioration of the regional security environment. 

Taken together, these processes have already produced a situation which looks much more ominous than any time in recent memory. Almost imperceptibly, coercion has become one of the principal means by which major powers relate to each other. 

Pakistan successfully tests nuclear-capable Hatf-II missile

15 February 2013

Pakistan today successfully tested the nuclear-capable Hatf-II ballistic missile with a range of 180 kms, marking the second test of a missile system in four days as part of measures to evaluate the capabilities of its Strategic Forces. 

The test of the Hatf-II or Abdali short range surface-to-surface ballistic missile was part of the "process of validation of land-based ballistic missile systems", the military said in a statement.

It described the test as successful but did not say where it was conducted.

The missile can carry nuclear or conventional warheads with "high accuracy", the statement said.

"The weapon system with its varied manoeuvrability options provides an operational level capability to Pakistan’s Strategic Forces," it said.

On February 11, Pakistan tested the nuclear-capable Hatf-IX tactical missile with a range of 60 kms.

The military had said the weapon system was specially designed to defeat anti-tactical missile defence systems.

Analysts say the short-range Hatf-IX missile is primarily aimed at deterring India's Cold Start military doctrine, which envisages quick thrusts by small integrated battle groups in the event of hostilities.

IPCS Discussion: The Evolving Situation in the East and South China Seas

14 February 2013 
By Rana Divyank Chaudhary

Prof Kanti Bajpai 

There are certain core issues which have always cast a shadow over the relations between India and China. The first core issue is the Sino-Indian border. The second is the India-Pakistan-China triangle which continues to bedevil the relationship. The third is the fear on both sides that the other does and will continue to interfere in its domestic politics. 

Looking forward, there are a series of issues growing between India and China. These issues structurally flow from the two countries’ fast and simultaneous economic growth. One expects high rates of economic growth over a long period of time to translate into greater military power. There has been a strong drive for military modernisation and expansion in force numbers in both India and China. 

Secondly, with rise in hard power, the countries' desire for greater global importance also grows and they become more assertive in expressing their opinions on issues which do not immediately or even regionally concern them. Thirdly, one can expect the demand for four strategic resources to increase sharply - food, water, energy, and strategic minerals - from the point of view of agricultural and industrial growth as well as burgeoning household needs. 

In this fast evolving context, are India and China headed on a path of unavoidable competition or conflict? There is a hope that in spite of these growing concerns, there are opportunities for collaboration and at the very least, parallel interests and possibly similar positions on structural issues. This is a paradoxical scenario with both India and China poised at the cusp of conflict and cooperation. 

Blunt Words on China from U.S. Navy

February 7, 2013
By Sam Roggeveen 

U.S. Navy Captain James Fanell makes some surprising comments on China. Check out the video. 

Image credit:U.S. Navy (Flickr) 

In the context of a recent article in The Australian that China was being invited to America's biggest annual Pacific naval exercise, RIMPAC (which wasn't really news), it is useful to be reminded of the climate of wariness and mistrust in which such invitations are extended. 

The U.S. trade publication Defense News last week posted a video on its blog from a U.S. Naval Institute conference featuring an extraordinarily blunt assessment of China's maritime strategy and ambitions from U.S. Navy Captain James Fanell, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Information Operations for U.S. Pacific Fleet. The moderator describes Fanell as the "top intelligence officer" in the Pacific Fleet, which means he is likely advising some of the U.S. military's senior decision-makers on China's military strategy and capability. 

Fanell's language is, well, bracing. He calls China "hegemonic" and says it displays "aggression"; he claims China "bullies adversaries" and that it has become a "mistrusted principal threat." Watch Captain Fanell's presentation from about 21 minutes into the above video. 

Sam Roggeveen is editor for the Lowy Interpreter, where an edited form of this piece first appeared. 

The Pitfalls of Moralizing

February 13, 2013
By Ravi Shanker Kapoor 

Any discussion on paid news inevitably meanders into the foggy realm of ethics; invariably, the denouement is a set of lessons in moral science. A typical debate begins with some case(s) of gross professional misconduct by some journalists or media houses. Then media Brahmins become nostalgic about the good old days when commercial imperatives did not color editorial decisions. And bemoan, in contradistinction, the falling standards at present. Journalism, they lament, is no longer a ‘mission.’ There is no sense of ‘social responsibility.’ Everything that was noble in the profession has been sacrificed at the altar of commerce, we are told. It appears as if there is no ground of normal behavior between saintliness and sin. 

What they miss out in the journey down the memory lane is the fact that commerce was never divorced from the media; except a very few cases, the press was always a business. At least for those who really mattered—that is, press barons. One has to be extraordinarily credulous to believe that in the 1980s and earlier, the Jains and the Birlas were on a mission to redeem the nation and now they have abandoned their messianic zeal. 

The difference between then and now is not that ‘mission’ has been replaced with professionalism; the difference is that professionalism has been replaced with unscrupulous commercialism. It was the professionalism of the journalists, and the decency of press barons, of the bygone era that did not allow such practices as paid news to become mainstream. Not that there were no malpractices, but these were aberrations rather than standard operations. Unlike what is happening today, when the line between news and advertisement has blurred beyond recognition. 

The surest way to remain embroiled in the mess caused by paid news and other questionable practices is to continue indulgence in moralizing and sentimentalism. The indulgence, however, continues. One reason is that it gives Left-leaning journalists and non-journalists get an opportunity to further their agenda of maligning capitalism. ‘This is what liberalization does. When profit-making becomes the ultimate goal, such practices inevitably follow’—this is the sum and substance of their fulminations. The timeline matches: most perversions in the media started in the 1990s. But there is no invariable and indubitable causation involved; there are a large number of countries with capitalist economies which don’t have the abomination called paid news. For instance, conservative columnists in the U.S. regularly blastThe New York Times for pro-liberal bias but never of masquerading advertisement as news. Similarly, liberal journalists slam Fox News for being Rightwing but there is no hint of paid news. 

Why Iran Already Has the Bomb

By Lee Smith
February 14, 2013

If North Korea has the bomb, as this week’s nuclear test indicated, then for all practical purposes, so does Iran 

People watch a TV broadcast reporting North Korea’s nuclear test at the Seoul Railway station on Feb. 12, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) 

The White House and President Obama’s supporters insist that he’s making his first trip to Israel next month to assure the Jewish state that if push comes to shove with Iran, he’ll have Israel’s back. But North Korea’s nuclear test Tuesday morning could indicate that it’s already too late for that. If North Korea has the bomb, then for all practical purposes Iran does, too. If that’s so, then Obama’s policy of prevention has failed, and containment—a policy that the president has repeatedly said is not an option—is in fact all Washington has. 

If this sounds hyperbolic, consider the history of extensive North Korean-Iranian cooperation on a host of military and defense issues, including ballistic missiles and nuclear development, that dates back to the 1980s. This cooperation includes North Korean sales of technology and arms, like the BM-25, a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Western Europe; Iran’s Shahab 3 missile is based on North Korea’s Nodong-1 and is able to reach Israel. Iran has a contigent of Iranian weapons engineers and defense officials stationed in North Korea. Meantime, North Korean scientists visit Iran. And last fall, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding regarding scientific, academic, and technological issues. 

Asteroid Hits Earth! How the Doomsday Scenario Would Play Out

By Jeffrey Kluger
Feb. 14, 2013

Getty Images 

Space is an exceedingly random place. Everything in the known universe may be governed by some pretty hard laws of physics, but so are BBs in a jar when you shake them up and down. That doesn’t stop things from getting very chaotic inside. The same extreme arbitrariness is worth keeping in mind as we contemplate our planet’s close brush with an asteroid this week. 

As TIME reports in this week’s issue, astronomers have known for the better part of a year that asteroid 2012 DA14—a medium sized, 150 ft (50 m) rock weighing 143,000 tons—was closing in on us. They knew that it would miss us too, by 17,200 miles (27,700 km). That seems like a big number, but in a solar system measured in billions of miles and a universe measured in billions of light years, it vanishes to inconsequence. The fact is, the odds of our getting clobbered by the rogue rock were in some ways the same as its missing us—at least when you fold into the equation how little it would have taken to change both its course and its impact. So what would those x-factors have been that would have turned a near miss into a true disaster, and what would the nastiness that resulted have looked like? 

Let’s start by making 2012 DA14 bigger—though it hardly needs the extra bulk. At its current size, it would produce a blast equivalent to 2.4 megatons, or 180 Hiroshimas, after it entered our atmosphere. A significantly bigger asteroid would produce a significantly bigger blast and there’s no shortage of those cosmic missiles out there. Astronomers estimate there are 2,400 objects in the vicinity of Earth that are at least 0.5 km (0.3 mi) across and 860 of those are a full 1 km (.62 mi.). A 0.5 km rock would produce a 5,000 megaton blast—not to mention a 7.1 Richter-scale shock. Let’s split the difference then, but err on the size of conservatism: Our death rock would be a comparatively modest 100 m, or 330 ft., across. 

Army and Civil Society: The Critical Role of Communication

By Savithri Subramanian

The Army plays a significant role in preserving the internal security environment of the country as some parts of the country are afflicted with terrorist/ insurgent violence. Terms like counter insurgency and counter terrorism (CI/CT) are used to describe operations undertaken by the Army. The Army is required to execute its operational tasks on a long-term basis, but within the everyday context of civil society in what may be politically termed as ‘disturbed’ and ‘extraordinary’ circumstances. However, the public may not be able to exactly gauge the security concerns in the place and may be varyingly viewed as ‘normal’ or ‘slightly disturbed’ by different sections of the civil society. This paper attempts to understand the peculiarities of an operating army unit in such a context and argues for a particular approach that may, in the long term, benefit the army’s smooth functioning and the morale of the soldiers deployed for such duties. 

The need for the paper emerges from the widely prevailing and often polarising debates on the role of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The Act often appears to the average and uninformed person as granting to the Army exceptional immunity for actions undertaken by it. These debates and research papers come to varying conclusions regarding AFSPA that include repealing the Act, laying further restrictive guidelines on its applications and increasing transparency during the trial of soldiers who misuse their powers. This paper does not aim to comment on whether AFSPA needs to continue, has lost its relevance or is flawed in its formulation. It looks at AFSPA and CI/CT activities as given factors in the medium term and focuses primarily on facilitating the functioning of the Army and acceptance of the Army’s presence by the civil society. 

AFSPA and Human Rights: 

These issues gain significance in a country like India because of its rich democratic tradition and a powerful Constitution that ensures a number of rights to its citizens. Further, it is a signatory to a number of International Human Rights Conventions that bind us to ensuring a range of rights and freedoms to every individual. 

Iran and Nuclear Weapons: A New Agenda

By Manish, Sikkim University 
16 February 2013
Barely hours after reports of North Korea conducting its third nuclear test, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ramin Mehmanparast, reportedly called upon the world powers to abolish nuclear weapons. He stated, “We need to come to the point where no country has any nuclear weapons and at the same time all weapons of mass destruction and nuclear arms need to be destroyed”. 

Understanding Iran’s Strategy 

Not surprisingly, the statement comes with a caveat: “countries should still have the right to develop nuclear programs for peaceable uses,” clearly an articulation of Iran’s position on its controversial nuclear programme. The statement by Iran’s Foreign Minister can also be viewed against the backdrop of its ongoing negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and possibly, also setting the tone and tenor for the next round of diplomatic talks with the delegates of US , Russia , UK , France , China and Germany (P5+1), in Kazakhstan later this month. 

The ongoing Iran-IAEA talk in Tehran is aimed to “finalise the structured approach” and “facilitate the resolution of the outstanding issues related to the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear programme.” IAEA wants Iran to let it access its military base near Parchin, which the Agency had earlier inspected twice (last in 2005). Based on satellite imagery inputs, it is now suspected that Iran could have carried out experiments there, with explosives capable of triggering a nuclear weapon. However, Tehran has indicated that a possible opening up of the Parchin military site for inspections will be conditional upon the Agency recognising Iran’s “right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy”. 

In yet another effort to speed up its enrichment activity, Tehran is planning to install and operate an advanced version of uranium enrichment IR2-m centrifuges at its facility at Natanz. These next generation centrifuges, Tehran claims, are specifically meant for low grade uranium enrichment below 5 per cent purity. Tehran has been articulating for long now that it needs to have complete control over its nuclear fuel cycle including the production of nuclear fuel in order to reduce its dependence on foreign sources. Since Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it therefore has a right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, under IAEA verification protocols. However, Tehran’s history of denials about its nuclear programme, coupled with a clear pattern of concealing nuclear –related information from the IAEA, has made the world suspicious that it is masking the development of nuclear weapons under the guise of a peaceful programme. The question is, what is the way forward? 

Iran and Nuclear Weapons: New Negotiations, Old Issues?

16 February 2013 

By Shubhra Chaturvedi

The announcement about the talks (at Kazakhstan in February 2013) between Iran and the six powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China and Russia), after an eight months break, is being seen as an optimistic breakthrough. What has changed since the last talks in Moscow? Has the Iranian leadership become softer on this issue? Or has the international community become more accommodating? 

Moscow Dialogue, June 2012: What has changed since then? 

The dialogue held in Moscow in June 2012 displayed differences in the basic perspectives of the negotiating parties. According to Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s top foreign policy representative and the lead negotiator in this case, there were, “Significant gaps between the substance of the two positions” (The Washington Post, 20 June 2012). While the US and its allies wanted to limit the conversation to nuclear issues, Iran wanted to address a wider range of security concerns. There were attempts from P5+1 to also urge Iran to admit to the existence of nuclear weapons in the past in the country. The policy followed by the West towards the alleged Iranian nuclear programme was to ‘stop, shut and ship.’ 

There is a certain “optimism” that is being linked to the Kazakhstan talks visible in the various positive public statements being made. The optimism could very well be the result of the softening of the Iranian approach towards the US, a consequence of the strict sanctions, or just an extension of the “new policy” that the United States seems to be following towards Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in Berlin on Monday that he was "optimistic" regarding what he saw as a new approach from the United States regarding Iran. The new approach is aimed at the resolution of the issue of the Iranian nuclear programme by bilateral talks between Iran and the US. 

Optimism or layered pessimism? 

US Vice President, Joe Biden’s claim about the presence of necessary seriousness as a pre-requisite for negotiations to take place, portrays the uncertainty that exists between the negotiating parties. Iran still claims that its nuclear programme has no intentions of developing weapons whereas it still enriches uranium in violation of the UNSC resolutions.