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11 Jan 19. France tells Iran to stop ballistic missile work designed for nuclear weapons. France on Friday called on Iran to immediately stop all activities linked to ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons after Tehran said it could put two satellites into orbit in the coming weeks.
“France recalls that the Iranian missile programme (does) not conform with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing.
“It calls on Iran to immediately cease all ballistic missile-related activities designed to carry nuclear weapons, including tests using ballistic missile technology.”
Von der Muhll was responding to comments by President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday, who said two satellites would be sent into space using Iran-made missiles.
Tehran responded by telling France to avoid repeating “irresponsible and incorrect” claims about Tehran’s missile work that were made by countries that were against a 2015 deal reached between Iran and six major powers, Iranian state TV reported on Friday.
“Iran’s home-grown defensive missile programme is the Iranian nation’s natural right,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by TV.
“Iran’s missile programme is not in violation of U.N. resolution of 2231.” (Source: Reuters)
11 Jan 19. S. Korea to Increase Spending to Build ‘Independent’ Defense Capabilities. South Korea will increase defense spending by an average of 7.5 percent each year over the next five years with a focus on building “independent capabilities to counter threats from all directions,” Seoul’s defense ministry said Friday. The ministry announced its defense blueprint for the 2019-2023 period, during which it wants to spend 270.7trn won (US$241.9bn) — 94.1trn won on improving defense capabilities and the rest on managing troops, equipment and facilities. Under the plan, the ministry seeks to increase the country’s defense budget, which stands at 46.7trn won this year, to 50.3trn won for 2020, 54.1trn won for 2021, 57.8trn won for 2022 and 61.8trn won for 2023. During the five-year period, the average annual increase rate amounts to 7.5 percent, compared with an average of 4.9 percent over the last decade. The spending plan, which will go through an internal review by the finance ministry, is subject to parliamentary approval. From this year through 2023, the ministry hopes to increase the annual budget for strengthening defense capabilities by an average of 10.8 percent and that for force management by an average of 5.8 percent. The cost of enhancing defense capabilities accounts for 32.9 percent of this year’s total defense budget. The ministry seeks to expand that proportion to 36.5 percent in 2023.
“The ministry has decided to focus on building independent defense capabilities while reasonably adjusting the force management cost by redesigning the personnel management structure and enhancing operational efficiency,” the ministry said in a press release.
The midterm plan earmarks 65.6 trn won for an array of projects to secure capabilities to respond to threats from nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), retake wartime operational control from Washington and enhance overall deterrence. To counter nuclear and WMD threats, the ministry plans to secure “strategic target strike” capabilities by procuring military satellites, mid- and high-altitude surveillance drones and long-range air-to-surface guided missiles. For the same purpose, it will push for a “Korea-style missile defense” program featuring early warning radars and enhanced surface-to-air Cheolmae II interceptors capable of shooting down an incoming target at an altitude of around 20 kilometers. It will also strive to build “overwhelming response” capabilities with advanced missiles and other assets.
The three programs — strategic target strike, Korea-style missile defense and overwhelming response — comprise the “system to respond to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction,” the new name for the “three-axis” system, a bedrock scheme to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. The ministry has renamed the three-axis system in line with ongoing efforts for inter-Korean reconciliation and its push to handle potential threats from outside the peninsula. To establish the renamed system, the ministry allocated 32trn won in the latest five-year plan, an increase of about 30 percent from the previous plan announced in 2017. To build South Korea’s capabilities to lead wartime operations, the ministry plans to double counter-fire capabilities by deploying advanced counter-artillery detection radars and 230mm-caliber multiple launch rocket systems. It will also continue its projects to introduce homegrown Aegis-equipped destroyers and fighter jets. Moreover, it plans to set aside 21.9 trn over the next five years for developing other high-tech weapons systems and related defense technologies. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Yonhap News Agency)
11 Jan 19. China responds to US Navy’s freedom of navigation operation in SCS. The Chinese military has responded to the US Navy’s freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea (SCS) by claiming to have deployed missiles with the potential to destroy medium-sized and large ships.
Speaking to China Central Television on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the government announced that the military had deployed DF-26 ballistic missiles in the north-west plateau, following a US Navy mission in which the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed near to the Paracel Islands. The Paracels are a group of contested islands claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam in the SCS.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told CNN on Monday: “The US action violated the Chinese laws and international laws, infringed China’s sovereignty, damaged regional peace, security, and order. China will take necessary actions to protect state sovereignty.”
DF-26 ballistic missiles are capable of hitting targets up to 3,400 miles away, using nuclear or conventional warheads.
US Navy Lieutenant junior grade Rachel McMarr said in a statement: “McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”
The US Navy’s operation is the first conducted since the ratification of the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018, which allows the US commander-in-chief to continue freedom of navigation operations in the area.
Increasing military presence in the SCS
Tensions have increased in the SCS in recent years, catalysed in part by the Chinese Government constructing fortifications and grounded long-range bombers on disputed islands. Last year, President Xi Jinping oversaw the nation’s largest naval parade in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands.
In November 2018, the US Navy conducted a freedom of navigation operation close to the Paracel Islands, sailing the USS Chancellorsville in the vicinity. On 30 September, the USS Decatur’s freedom of navigation operation near the Spratly islands in the SCS caused a near collision incident with the Chinese destroyer Lanzhou.
On 31 December, Institute of Marine Safety and Cooperation president Dai Xu said on the Chinese military’s website: “If a US warship illegally enters into Chinese territorial waters again, two Chinese warships should be sent, one to stop it and the other to bump against and sink it.”
The latest US Navy operation involving USS McCampbell comes at a time when US and Chinese officials, including President Trump and President Xi, are conducting the first talks in Beijing over the current trade war since last year’s G20 summit in Argentina.
Speaking at a meeting with the Central Military Commission in Beijing on 4 January 2019, President Xi said that the People’s Liberation army should focus its efforts to enhance combat readiness. According to Chinese state news firm Xinhua, Xi said the military should “upgrade commanding capability of joint operations, foster new combat forces, and improve military training under combat conditions”.
09 Jan 19. Iran – Semnan: Satellite imagery analysis indicates space launch rocket vehicle test preparations. Open source commercial satellite imagery analysis released by international media outlets on 8 January indicates Iran appears to be preparing to conduct a Simorgh space launch rocket vehicle test from the Imam Khomeini Space Centre in Semnan Province. During December 2018, Iranian officials indicated to regime-aligned media outlets that the government planned on conducting three space launches incorporating long-range rocket technology during 2019. On 4 January, the US issued a preemptive warning to Iran against conducting the three planned space launches involving long-range rocket technology. The US specifically stated that it views such launches as a violation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, which requires Iran to refrain from “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology”. Though Iran claims space lunches incorporating long-range rocket technology are for peaceful purposes only and not a violation of UNSCR 2231, the US believes the activity is a cover for testing ballistic missile components.
The US FAA has a standing notice and background information advising operators to exercise caution when transiting Iranian airspace due to unannounced military activity and missile launches (NOTAM KICZ A0016/18). Most recently, the US announced that Iran “test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile that’s capable of carrying multiple warheads” on 1 December. Unannounced rocket and missile launches that transit airspace used by civilian aircraft pose a nascent but credible hazard to flight operations at all altitudes. The Iranian civil aviation authority has a 24-hour all-altitude airspace restriction over the Imam Khomeini Space Centre and surrounding area outlined in its Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP ENR 5.1.3 – 4/OID41). However, it remains unclear if Iran will issue adequate NOTAMs prior to the planned space launches discussed above, covering the specific portions of the airspace in FIR Tehran (OIIX) affected by the activity. Iran previously conducted a test of a Simorgh space launch rocket vehicle from the Imam Khomeini Space Centre on 27 July 2017, without issuing appropriate NOTAMs prior to the event. Additional Iranian missile launches in the Strait of Hormuz area or space launch rocket vehicle tests within designated areas in Semnan Province, as well as operational strikes into Syria or Iraq, are likely during 2019, with a specific flash-point being the late January time-frame. We continue to assess Iran to be a MODERATE risk aviation and airspace operating environment at all altitudes.
Risk area recommendation: Stringent risk mitigation measures
- Overflight possible with the following measures in place
- Security and operational risk-based identification of pre-planned divert airports
- Access to reliable and redundant communications with an established communications plan
- Fully-coordinated and robust emergency response plan
Approvals: Operators are advised to ensure flight plans are correctly filed, attain proper special approvals for flight operations to sensitive locations and obtain relevant overflight permits prior to departure. In addition, ensure crews scheduled to operate to or over the country in the near term are fully aware of the latest security situation.
Aviation Safety: Aviation safety incidents have the potential to cause follow-on disruption to airport security operations. Operators are advised to review internal and external mechanisms for aviation safety reporting. Any revisions to processes should account for air and ground safety occurrence provisions as part of a wider aviation risk management strategy to protect aircraft, passengers and crew. In addition, ensure emergency response and communications plans are up to date to enhance continuity during times of crisis. (Source: Osprey)
07 Jan 19. Chinese Military Warns Off US Warship and Keeps Alert to Situation. Naval and air forces of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command conducted whole-process monitoring of a US warship that had trespassed into Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without permission, and warned it to leave, a spokesperson of the Southern Theater Command said on Monday. The USS McCampbell, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer of the US Navy, trespassed on Monday into Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without permission of the Chinese government. The PLA Southern Theater Command soon sent naval ships and aircraft to identify and warn off the US warship.
Senior colonel Li Huamin said in a statement that China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters, and the provocation of the US warship has infringed China’s sovereignty, is a grave violation of Chinese law and relevant international law and is also a grave threat to regional peace and stability.
“We urge the US side to immediately cease such provocative actions. The PLA Southern Theater Command will remain on high alert, closely monitor relevant maritime and air situations and resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty and security,” he said. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/China Military Online)
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