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02 Feb 19. Russia pulls out of cold war-era missile treaty. Putin’s move follows US decision to end participation in intermediate-range nuclear pact.
Vladimir Putin has said he will withdraw Russia from the terms of cold war-era nuclear arms treaty, a day after the US followed through on a long-threatened pledge to suspend its adherence to the pact after alleged violations by Moscow. The reciprocal suspensions effectively tear up the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was designed as one of the key safeguards against global nuclear war but has waned in importance in recent years amid accusations of non-compliance and the rising military threat of China, which is not a signatory. The Russian president said Moscow would begin work on developing new missiles and modifying existing systems, but would not deploy weapons unless the US decided to. “We will do as follows,” Mr Putin said at a televised meeting with his foreign and defence ministers on Saturday. “We will come up with a tit-for-tat response. Our American partners have announced the suspension of their participation in the treaty, so we will suspend as well.” The treaty bans ground-launched missiles with a range between 500km and 5,500km. Analysts have warned that its abandonment could increase missile deployment in Europe and threaten EU capitals. Washington accuses Moscow of testing a new cruise missile that violates the terms. Moscow denies this and says US missile defence systems in eastern Europe are in contravention, something Washington also denies.
Months of negotiations have failed to find a compromise, leading to the US suspension on Friday. Mr Putin said on Saturday that while he did not want to provoke an arms race, the country’s military should start work on developing a ground launching system for an already active missile programme, and told his defence minister to “launch a new development, a hypersonic ground-based intermediate-range missile.” Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said that he feared the INF breakdown suggested that the US would not seek to extend the bilateral New Start agreement, which caps the number of nuclear warheads held by Moscow and Washington, and which expires in 2021. While the US has blamed Russian violations for its withdrawal from the INF treaty, many analysts have said that the agreement constrains its ability to counter the military rise of China. The US estimates that China has up to 30 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, many of which would be in contravention of the INF treaty if it were a signatory. (Source: FT.com)
02 Feb 19. Iran unveils long-range cruise missile on anniversary of revolution. Iran unveiled a new cruise missile with a range of 1,300 km (800 miles) on Saturday, state television reported, as the Middle Eastern country displays its achievements during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution
“With a range of more than 1,300 km … this cruise missile needs a very short time for its preparedness and can fly at a low altitude,” Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami said in remarks carried by state television during the unveiling ceremony.
Hatami said the new surface-to-surface missile, named Hoveizeh, was from the Soumar family of cruise missiles, which were unveiled in 2015.
Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities, although there are concerns about its long-range ballistic missiles.
Iran said in January its bid to launch a satellite failed after Tehran ignored U.S. warnings to avoid such activity. Washington warned Tehran this month against undertaking three planned rocket launches that it said would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology. The United States is concerned that the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch warheads. (Source: Reuters)
01 Feb 19. Moscow says still ready for dialogue over the INF treaty – RIA. Moscow is ready to maintain a dialogue over the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, after Washington said it plans to pull out of the deal, Russian state news agency RIA reported on Friday citing a foreign ministry spokeswoman.
Moscow reserves the right to respond to the United States’ decision to withdraw from the treaty, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, according to the Interfax news agency.
The United States will suspend compliance with INF treaty with Russia on Saturday and formally withdraw in six months if Moscow does not end its alleged treaty violations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier on Friday. (Source: Reuters)
31 Jan 19. U.S. envoy calls for full list of North Korean weapons programs. The U.S. special envoy for North Korea called on Thursday for North Korea to provide a comprehensive declaration of its nuclear and missile programs and warned that Washington has “contingencies” if the diplomatic process with Pyongyang failed.
In excerpts of a speech he will deliver in Palo Alto, California, Stephen Biegun said Washington must reach a deal with North Korea on expert access and monitoring mechanisms of key nuclear and missile sites and “ultimately ensure removal or destruction of stockpiles of fissile material, weapons, missiles, launchers and other weapons of mass destruction.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that North Korean had agreed a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and its leader Kim Jong Un would be held at the end of February “some place in Asia.”
The two men held the first summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader last June, a meeting that produced a vague commitment by Kim to work towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has yet to take what Washington sees as concrete steps in that direction.
The State Department said Biegun would travel to South Korea on Feb. 3 for a meeting with his North Korean counterpart.
In the excerpts of his speech provided by the State Department, Biegun said Kim committed during an October visit by Pompeo to the dismantlement and destruction of North Korea’s plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities, going much further than the top U.S. diplomat did after that trip and any public statement by Pyongyang.
“Before the process of denuclearization can be final, we must have a complete understanding of the full extent of the North Korean WMD and missile programs through a comprehensive declaration,” Biegun will say.
“We must reach agreement on expert access and monitoring mechanisms of key sites to international standards, and ultimately ensure the removal or destruction of stockpiles of fissile material, weapons, missiles, launchers and other weapons of mass destruction,” the speech says.
Biegun will also stress that the United States remains “clear eyed” about its dealings with North Korea.
“We need to have contingencies if the diplomatic process fails — which we do.”
Trump said on Thursday a time and location for his second summit with Kim had been agreed upon, but he did not give any details and said they would be announced next week. (Source: Reuters)
31 Jan 19. Indian court holds two more people sent from UAE in helicopter bribery case. An Indian court has ordered two men sent to India from the United Arab Emirates to be held pending trial over alleged bribery of government officials to buy helicopters, in a case which has become an issue in India’s upcoming general election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to embarrass the opposition Congress Party over the case. Congress was in power when the abortive deal to buy 12 helicopters from Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland for about 36bn rupees (385m pounds) was first agreed in 2010.
Accountant Rajiv Saxena and businessman Deepak Talwar were handed over to investigators for interrogation on Thursday after having been sent to India from the UAE. Their arrests follow that of another suspect in the case, British businessman Christian Michel, who was extradited to India from Dubai in December.
A submission from India’s Enforcement Directorate on Thursday said Saxena was the “key money launderer” in the scheme. Lawyers for Saxena told Reuters he denied wrongdoing. Reuters was unable to reach lawyers for Talwar. Michel has also denied wrongdoing.
The official Twitter account of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said the prime minister had acted like “Batman” in the case, given the speed with which Saxena and Talwar had been extradited from the UAE to face trial in India.
Saxena’s lawyers said the accountant had not been extradited through proper Emirati legal channels. Saxena had been visited at home in Dubai by Indian intelligence agents, lawyer Shivani Luthra Lohiya told Reuters.
“They picked him up from his house for what they called a 15 minute chat: next thing he knows he is put on a flight to India,” she said. “This is not extradition, it’s abduction.”
A spokesman for India’s foreign ministry said it had no information that correct procedures were not followed. Emirati officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
On Tuesday the UAE’s ambassador to India Ahmed Al Banna told a press conference the speed of Michel’s extradition last month was down to the “personal touch” in the relationship between the two countries.
“That sometimes makes things that don’t happen in one year, happen in one day,” he said.
Since the abortive India deal, AugustaWestland has been merged with its Italian parent company Leonardo. An Italian court cleared two Leonardo executives of corruption charges in January 2018 over the case, and Italy rejected a request from India to extradite them in May 2018.
Modi made a crackdown on graft – and the AgustaWestland case in particular – a talking point in local elections in December, telling a rally Michel could reveal “secrets” about the deal while under questioning.
But the leader has also been dogged by India’s failure to capture the fugitive tycoons Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, all of whom fled the country after being accused of financial crimes.(Source: Reuters)
30 Jan 19. Minister Pyne outlines Australia’s plan for Indo-Pacific region. Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has laid out Australia’s ambitions and commitment to Indo-Pacific Asia’s continuing peace, prosperity and stability in his keynote address at the Fullerton Forum in Singapore. As part of his third visit to Singapore in just over a year, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne was joined by Singaporean Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen as he outlined the growing role of Australia in Indo-Pacific Asia and the government’s commitment to ensure the region’s emerging security and economic challenges provide equal opportunity for all regional partners.
Minister Pyne identified five key areas of focus, each with a direct impact on the nation’s commitment to securing and enhancing continued regional economic growth and security, including:
- the government’s “Pacific Step Up” program;
- Exercise Indo-Pacific Endeavour and the growing holistic importance of the Indo-Pacific;
- the continuity of the global “rules based order”;
- a credible ADF capable of deterring coercion; and
- the need for greater regional capability.
Government’s renewed ‘Pacific Step Up’ program
The Pacific Step Up strategy incorporates a number of different focuses, ranging from economic and infrastructure development, combined with a renewed Australian strategic and defence commitment to the broader Pacific region, which were outlined by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as part of the 2018 APEC leadership conference in Port Moresby.
The Prime Minister identified two interconnected key areas for Australian focus, namely:
- enhanced regional economic collaboration and integration through investment in key infrastructure and economic drivers, like communications networks; and
- regional strategic partnerships and alliances to promote transparent dialogue and amicable strategic relations.
As part of Australia stepping up it’s commitment and presence in the Pacific, the government announced a $2bn Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, which was created with the view of supporting the economic and infrastructure development of key partners in the Pacific region in particular.
Australia will also provide training and infrastructure upgrades to support the domestic security and defence capabilities of regional partners like Vanuatu, with the Prime Minister outlining an expansion of the island nation’s police force and the appointment of a new Australian defence adviser in Vanuatu. Another example is the recent signing of a major joint initiative between the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea on the construction of the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.
“Last year, at the invitation of the Papua New Guinean government, Australia has agreed to a major joint initiative which will see the development of the Lombrum Naval Base, the old HMAS Tarangau, on Manus Island. This will create a vital operating base for the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and the Royal Australian Navy,” Minister Pyne told the Fullerton Forum.
Minister Pyne also reinforced the Australian government’s 30-year, $2bn Pacific Maritime Security Program, which incorporates the Pacific Patrol Boat program, supporting the delivery of 21 patrol boats built by Australia’s defence industry to regional nations.
Building on these factors, Defence will play a critical role in implementing the Pacific Step Up program, providing training, support and officer development, providing people-to-people connections and the introduction of specialised, large-hulled, multi-purpose amphibious ship to support increased engagement in the Pacific region.
Building regional capacity and relationships with Exercise Indo-Pacific Endeavour
In an apparent partial return to the concept of “Forward Defence”, the 2019 iteration of Indo-Pacific Endeavour will focus on Australia serving as a major coalition builder in the region, supporting the deployment of a major military task group to the region.
The 2018 exercise will also see renewed Australian focus on the Indian Ocean, recognising the importance of growing and nurturing economic and, critically, defence and strategic relationships with key Indian Ocean nations, including rising superpower India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.
“In 2019, the focus of Indo-Pacific Endeavour will be the Indian Ocean, in recognition of the Indian Ocean region’s rapid economic transformations and increasing strategic competition. IPE demonstrates how Australia’s strategy for proactive engagement depends on our ability to grow the depth and sophistication of how we work and operate together,” Minister Pyne said.
This renewed focus on the Indian Ocean region belies a broader reinvigorated Australian focus on the broader region, particularly relationship building with 50 per cent of the world’s population and the 12 member states of the G20, including the three largest economies in the world, Indo-Pacific nations and the world’s busiest sea lanes and seaports, each of which are essential to Australia’s continuing period of economic growth and prosperity.
Countering regional and global rivalries to benefit all
The mounting great power rivalry between the US and China in particular is an area of growing focus for Australia as it becomes increasingly torn between its largest economic partner and traditional security benefactor.
“Australia shares the ambitions of those that want a region where countries have the freedom to make their own choices. Countries will be more secure in a region characterised by respect for international law and other norms, where disputes are resolved peacefully, without the threat or use of coercion or force,” Minister Pyne said.
This reinforced the Australian government’s commitment to establishing and maintaining open lines of dialogue between the major global and regional players to ensure that any situation can be resolved amicably, to the benefit of all nations, not just a select few.
“The Indo-Pacific we aspire to is one underpinned by the rules‑based order, which is open, inclusive, robust and free of coercion.”
Regional partnerships, including ASEAN, the East Asia Summit and, more broadly, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) play critical roles in continuing to support and nurture the development of continuing regional peace, prosperity and security: ”Australia is prepared to play its part in defending the rule of law. Australia envisages a region that is more closely integrated and where we all collectively reject isolationism. We must work together, not apart. Working together, we can increase prosperity and security. It is thus our collective responsibility to preserve a system of rules and standards, a system in which differences are managed peacefully.”
Developing Australia’s deterrence credentials
Minister Pyne turned his attention to the growing deterrence capabilities of Australia and the reinvigorated focus on developing an unprecedented suite of Australian capabilities. In particular, the minister highlighted the $90bn sovereign shipbuilding program, along with key capability acquisitions as part of the government’s $200bn decade-long commitment to developing the most capable Australian defence capability since the Second World War.
“We are investing over 90bn Australian dollars in a fleet of 55 leading‑edge ships, 12 Attack Class submarines, nine Hunter Class anti‑submarine warfare frigates, 12 Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels, one hydrographic ship, and 21 Guardian Class patrol boats for Pacific Island countries and Timor Leste,” Minister Pyne said.
Minister Pyne was clear in identifying that while the Australian government was not actively seeking conflict, it was committed to developing a credible force to deter coercion against Australia or her national interests throughout the region. This commitment also extends to countering the rising challenges presented by asymmetric threats, organised criminal organisations and cyber security threats.
A final point for the minister’s keynote was his insistence that he and Australia remain committed to engagement with the region and key decision-makers around Indo-Pacific Asia, adding a personal touch, saying, “I read my own emails and I want you to reach out to me, to everyone else in this room, to those you meet and will meet across the great and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. By rejecting isolationism, rejecting suspicion and embracing engagement, we can increase trust, develop closer links, and forge a new path forward.” (Source: Defence Connect)
28 Jan 19. US Warships’ Futile Geopolitical Provocation in Taiwan Straits. The US Pacific fleet’s guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the USNS Walter S. Diehl transited through the Taiwan Straits on Thursday. This is the first time that US warships passed through the Taiwan Straits this year, and the third action of such kind since October. Such high frequency has been rare in recent years.
The purpose of US warships is to flex their geopolitical muscle. The US on Thursday claimed that the transit “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” but such “beautiful” rhetoric entails obvious provocation. The hostile gesture of the US will diminish mutual trust between China and the US. Chinese society generally holds a fair impression of the US, but such provocation will only tarnish the US image. China will find the US action irritating, but such actions can never deter China. With China’s military strength increasing, the deterrence that US warships can have on China by passing the Taiwan Straits has almost vanished. Be it in the Taiwan Straits or the South China Sea where the US advocates its so-called freedom of navigation, the US military can hardly build any trust from regional countries, because the US moves have intensified tensions. No one in the region believes that the US military could awe the Chinese mainland, and more and more people worry that the US action will lead to regional geopolitical turbulence.
Even within Taiwan, there have been an increasing number of people who worry that growing tensions in the Taiwan Straits may jeopardize Taiwan’s interests. Even the “Taiwan independence” forces do not believe the US military can threaten the mainland. Each time a US warship passes through the Taiwan Straits or Chinese islands in the South China Sea, warships from the Chinese mainland will keep them under watch. Once US ships enter within 12 nautical miles of the islands, or US carrier-based planes take off when its warships pass through the Taiwan Straits, the Chinese PLA will intensify its surveillance, leading to more confrontations and risks. Last September, US warships entered waters off China’s islands and reefs in the South China Sea and were warded off by China’s warships. Later, the US accused China of provoking it, but the fact is that US warships keep flexing their muscles in China’s coastal areas, and the Chinese army is bound to demonstrate Chinese sovereignty and national determination. That US warships and planes keep provoking in China’s coastal areas will obviously increase the possibility of a military clash between the two. The moves by the US military will not only worsen strategic understanding between the two militaries, but also increase the difficulty of the front-line troops of the two countries to stay tactically secure. From a long-term perspective, US war games will become the largest source of risks that will be hard to manage between Beijing and Washington.
If the US does not intend to provoke a strategic confrontation with China, or increase the risk of military clashes with China, it should refrain from staging military provocation in China’s coastal areas. The US should take the initiative to reduce its confrontational acts and try its best to manage the risks. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Global Times)
29 Jan 19. Aeronautics Execs Export Licenses Suspended. Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday suspended the export licenses of three senior officials from an aircraft manufacturer suspected of testing one of its “suicide drones” against the Armenian military in 2017 at the behest of its client Azerbaijan in violation of Israeli law.
Many details of the case remain under a court-issued gag order.
The publicly traded company, Aeronautics Ltd., informed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange of the development on Sunday.
The Defense Ministry later confirmed that it was blocking the export licenses of three senior officials in the company — CEO Amos Matan, deputy CEO Meir Rizmovitch and a third, unnamed, employee — pending a formal hearing.
“They will not be able to work in marketing or defense exports with outside officials,” the company said.
This suspension will remain in effect until a verdict is rendered in the case against them.
The announcement came two weeks after the Rafael defense contractor agreed to purchase Aeronautics for NIS 850m ($231.7m).
In August 2018, the State’s Attorney’s Office announced that it intended to indict Matan, Rizmovitch and other senior officials in the company in connection with the alleged illegal live-fire test of its Orbiter 1K model unmanned aerial vehicle.
A statement announcing the plans to summon the company members said they were suspected of fraud as well as other violations of the Defense Export Control Law, which protects against unauthorized exports of defense intelligence and equipment.
In a statement responding to the hearing summonses, Aeronautics said: “We are convinced that after we first present our position at the hearing, the State Prosecutor’s Office will reach an informed decision that there is no reason to put the company or any of its officers in court and will order the case closed.”
In August 2017, the reports emerged that the company was suspected of using the Orbiter 1K kamikaze drone to attack Armenian forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region during a demonstration for Azeri officials. A copy of the complaint was first leaked to the Maariv newspaper.
The Israel Police’s Unit of International Crime Investigations, the Defense Ministry’s investigation unit and the State Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into Aeronautics’s conduct, but a gag order has been placed over many of its details.
With the launch of the probe, the company said it had been barred from selling the Orbiter 1K model to its “central client ‘A’” — not identifying the country by its name, per the gag order.
This ban remains in place as of Sunday. Aeronautics is accused of sending a team to the Azerbaijan capital Baku to demonstrate the Orbiter 1K unmanned aerial vehicle, which can be outfitted with a small explosive payload of 2.2 to 4.4 pounds (one to two kilograms) and flown into an enemy target on a “suicide” mission. According to the complaint against the company, while demonstrating the kamikaze drone to the Azerbaijani military in July 2017, the company was asked to carry out a live-fire test of the system against an Armenian military position. The two countries have been been fighting sporadically for nearly 25 years.
Such a test would be illegal under Israeli law, as it would require a seldom-granted permit to carry out demonstrations against real targets. In this case, Aeronautics Defense Systems would have been even less likely to receive such a permit, as Israel does not consider Armenia to be an enemy state.
The two Israelis operating the two Orbiter 1K drones during the test refused to carry out the attack, despite threats from their superiors, Maariv reported.
Two higher-ranking members of the Aeronautics Defense Systems delegation in Baku then attempted to carry out the Azerbaijani request, but, lacking the necessary experience, did not directly hit their targets, the report said.
The Yavneh-based Aeronautics denied the assertion when reports first came out, saying it “has never carried out a demonstration against live targets, including in this case.”
Aeronautics Defense Systems, which specializes in UAV technology, manufactures other drones that are similar to the Orbiter 1K but lack its attack capabilities and can only be used for reconnaissance. Azad Systems, a subsidiary of Aeronautics Defense Systems that is run by the Azerbaijani defense ministry, currently manufactures at least two models of the Orbiter platform. Azerbaijani news outlets have reported that the country has its own Orbiter kamikaze drones as well.
In 2016, Azerbaijan used another Israeli kamikaze drone, an Israeli Aerospace Industries Harop-model, in an attack on a bus that killed seven Armenians.
Azerbaijan is one of the largest importers of Israeli military equipment and is seen as an important ally to the Jewish state, given that it shares a border with Israel’s nemesis, Iran, and provides between 25 to 40 percent of Israel’s oil. In 2016, the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev, revealed Azerbaijan had purchased some $5bn worth of weapons and defense systems from Israel.
Israel has come under internal criticism for its cooperation with Azerbaijan over the country’s reported human rights violations, despite it being one of the few majority-Muslim countries with which Israel enjoys an openly positive relationship. (Source: UAS VISION/Times of Israel)
28 Jan 19. Iran says it’s not in talks with France on missile work. Iran said on Monday it was not holding talks with France over its ballistic missile development, after Paris said it was ready to impose more sanctions if European attempts to address the programme in discussions with Tehran made no progress.
“There has been no talks, whether secret or not secret, about our missile programme with France or any other country,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told a weekly news conference, broadcast live on state TV.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday France was ready to impose further curbs if no progress was made in talks over the programme, described by Tehran as purely defensive but seen in the West as a destabilising factor in a volatile region.
“Our missile programme is a defensive programme that we only discuss it inside the country. I cannot confirm holding any secret talks with France over our missile programme,” Qasemi said, when asked about Le Drian’s remarks.
“We talk about regional and political issues with France … but our missile capability is not negotiable … we have repeatedly said that during our political talks with France.”
A U.N. Security Council resolution, which enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers in 2015, “called upon” Tehran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.
Iran says its missile tests are not in violation of the resolution and denies its missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
U.S. President Donald Trump exited the deal in May and reimposed sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the pact in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.
As the Trump administration accused Iran last year of harbouring nuclear ambitions and fomenting instability in the Middle East, the EU sought dialogue with Tehran.
At meetings between European and Iranian diplomats last year, Britain, France, Germany and Italy, pressed for gestures on Iran’s role in Syria’s war and for help to end the conflict in Yemen.
But several bilateral talks on the ballistic missile programme have yielded no results and France, Britain and Germany are now considering whether to push for sanctions and asset freezes and travel bans on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Iranians developing the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile programme, diplomats have told Reuters.
Trump said the deal, which Tehran and other signatories are trying to salvage it, was flawed as it did not address ballistic missiles or Iran’s support for armed proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. (Source: Reuters)
25 Jan 19. France tells Iran new sanctions loom if missile talks fail. France is ready to impose further sanctions on Iran if no progress is made in talks over its ballistic missile programme, the French foreign minister said on Friday. Jean-Yves Le Drian, who this week reiterated support for a European-backed system to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran and circumvent U.S. sanctions, said France wanted to see Tehran rein in its missile activity.
“We are ready, if the talks don’t yield results, to apply sanctions firmly, and they know it,” Le Drian told reporters.
In response, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi “reiterated that any new sanctions by European countries would lead to a re-evaluation by Iran of its interactions with those countries”, the state news agency IRNA reported.
“Iran’s missile capability is not negotiable, and this has been brought to the attention of the French side during the ongoing political dialogue between Iran and France,” Qasemi added.
A U.N. Security Council resolution enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States in which Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment programme in exchange for an end to international sanctions.
The resolution says Iran is “called upon” to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Iran denies its missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Last May, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, approved before he took office, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, saying it was flawed as it did not address ballistic missiles or Iran’s support for armed proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
The European signatories to the deal stuck with it, saying it is the best way to keep Iran’s nuclear work in check.
But U.S. sanctions over dollar transactions have made investors wary about doing business with Iran, something the European-backed special purpose vehicle (SPV) is meant to tackle.
Diplomats previously told Reuters that new sanctions being considered by EU countries over the missile issue could include asset freezes and travel bans on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and people involved in the ballistic missile programme. (Source: Reuters)
26 Jan 19. BAE chairman: UK should be ‘critical friend’ to Riyadh – Sky News. The killing of Jamal Khashoggi and Yemen’s war have hurt Saudi Arabia’s reputation, the chairman of BAE Systems (BAES.L) told Sky News, adding Britain as a “critical friend” could help Riyadh refocus on the development push it was making before those crises emerged.
The death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sparked global outrage and mushroomed into a crisis for the world’s top oil exporter and strategic ally of the West.
It also raised questions about Western business activity in the kingdom where BAE, Britain’s biggest defence company, and its partners are currently engaged in a multi-billion pound deal to sell Typhoon fighter planes.
“Saudi Arabia was a country that was developing very well under new leadership – a sense of liberalisation, opening up the country, opening up to opportunities for women. All these things were being very well received,” Chairman Roger Carr told Sky News.
“Two issues damaged the position of Saudi Arabia in eyes of the world – the Khashoggi affair is one of them and also the war in Yemen.”
“On Khashoggi, we have seen that politicians have admonished Saudi Arabia. Politicians didn’t believe the way that was done and handled was appropriate or acceptable and that’s exactly right,” he said.
“What we want to see, by being a consistent and critical friend, is that Saudi Arabia, needs to return to the pathway it was on and develop in the way it was.”
Riyadh is pursuing a plan to diversify the Arab world’s largest economy away from reliance on crude revenues, in part by attracting increasing amounts of foreign investment.
Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, is locked in a nearly four-year-old war that pits Iran-aligned Houthi rebels against the government backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the West. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
On Yemen, Carr said: “Our involvement with Saudi Arabia is helping us to take them to a point where a war that is, for them, a defensive war is something that they all recognise as something that needs to be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible.” (Source: Reuters)
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