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06 Jan 21. Australia concludes support of International Maritime Security Construct. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has concluded its contribution to the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) in the Middle East region.
Personnel from the Australian contingent joined coalition partners in a formal flag lowering ceremony at the IMSC headquarters in Bahrain on 28 December 2020 to mark the end of mission for Australia.
Commander of Joint Task force 633, Rear Admiral Michael Rothwell, AM, RAN, said the completion of ADF support to IMSC closed a small but important component of Australia’s long commitment to maritime security in the Middle East region.
RADM Rothwell said, “Our contribution to IMSC, alongside our coalition partners, has been effective in deterring malign activity, promoting maritime security and stability, and ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in international waters throughout the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman.”
Beginning in September 2019, Australia joined Albania, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States in the IMSC, contributing staff to the headquarters, as well as support from a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and the Frigate HMAS Toowoomba.
“The principle of freedom of navigation is critically important to Australia, as an island nation that relies on international waters to ship its exports. Australians should be very proud of our involvement in the IMSC mission,” RADM Rothwell said.
As announced by the Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, CSC, the ADF is reducing its naval presence in the Middle East region to enable resources to be deployed in the Indo-Pacific.
Rear Admiral Rothwell said the ADF would continue to support maritime security in the Middle East.
“As announced earlier this year, Defence will maintain specialist positions with the Combined Maritime Forces, the United States Naval Forces Central Command, and within Joint Task Force 633,” Rear Admiral Rothwell said. (Source: Defence Connect)
05 Jan 21. Tackling chemical weapons in Syria through both OPCW and UNSC. Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council. I would like to congratulate Tunisia on assuming the Presidency and also as other colleagues have done, to welcome new members of the Security Council from India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway.
I would like also to thank Under-Secretary-General Nakamitsu for her briefing today. We would also like to reiterate our gratitude to the Director-General of the OPCW for attending and briefing the Security Council last month. As recognised by the Security Council in resolution 2118 and subsequent resolutions, ongoing coordination between the UN and the OPCW is vital if we are to collectively resolve this issue.
At this point, I’d also like to reiterate our confidence in the OPCW and its Technical Secretariat. I recall that only a year ago, this Council adopted a Presidential Statement which unanimously reaffirmed our strong support for the work of the OPCW. Just five weeks ago, the overwhelming majority of states, parties from across all regional groups voted in favour of the OPCW budget, which included renewed funding for the IIT and other Technical Secretariat teams working on Syria.
I thank the OPCW Director-General for his 87th monthly report. In December 2013, the Security Council unanimously decided that Syria should not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, and should comply with all aspects of the decision of the OPCW Executive Council of 27 September 2013, which required it to submit a declaration of its chemical weapons programme within 30 days. It is deeply regrettable that 7 years later, Syria’s 30-day declaration can still not be considered accurate and complete.
As we have discussed previously, the unresolved issues in Syria’s chemical weapons declaration are of a serious and substantive nature. They include the unaccounted-for whereabouts of thousands of munitions and hundreds of tonnes of chemical agents. As the Director-General reported last month and again this month, they include a facility which Syria previously declared as not having been used for chemical weapons production but which OPCW evidence collected since 2014 indicates was used for the production and/or weaponization of chemical warfare nerve agents.
The ongoing threat posed to international peace and security by these unresolved issues is not hypothetical. Since Syria allegedly destroyed all of its chemical weapons stockpile in 2014, it has been found by both the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism and the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team to have used chemical weapons on at least 6 occasions. These are not hypothetical issues for the thousands of Syrian civilians who have suffered the horrifying effects on the body of nerve agents and chlorine.
As we said last month, the fact that three of the unresolved issues have recently been closed, shows that, contrary to the assertions of some that they are artificial, they are eminently capable of resolution if Syria chooses to engage genuinely and constructively.
Mr President, there is increasing international concern about Syria’s ongoing failure to comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the consequent threat to international peace and security and the chemical weapons non-proliferation regime. This is reflected in the recent decision taken by the OPCW Executive Council, which set a further deadline for compliance by Syria and recommended that the Conference of States Parties take action if Syria did not comply. Following failure to meet that deadline, the Conference of States Parties will consider that action this Spring.
As I said earlier, it has always been recognised that elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme has to be tackled through concerted efforts of both the OPCW and Security Council.
As we enter the 8th year of our consideration of this matter and as new colleagues join us on the Council, we look forward to renewing a serious and constructive discussion about the action the Security Council should take to uphold its resolutions and tackle this serious threat to international peace and security. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
06 Jan 21. Russian MoD received 2,700 weapon systems in 2020. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) received some 2,700 major weapon systems and 52,500 support systems in 2020, Deputy Defence Minister Alexey Krivoruchko told the ministry’s Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper on 30 December.
“The troops received 147 aircraft, the first reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial systems [UASs] with Inokhodets [Pacing Horse] and Forpost [Outpost] unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs], seven surface ships and two submarines, more than 1,500 land platforms, some 300 missile and artillery systems, and approximately 150 air defence weapons,” said Krivoruchko.
The military will also receive 94 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, including 22 Su-57 multirole combat aircraft, ahead of schedule through 2024.
In 2022 the MoD is planning to complete the development of the T-14 Armata main battle tank, T-15 Armata, B-11 Kurganets-25, and K-17 Bumerang infantry fighting vehicles, B-10 Kurganets-25 and K-16 Bumerang armoured personnel carriers, the T-16 armoured recovery vehicle, the Koalitsiya-SV 152 mm self-propelled howitzer, and a number of advanced combat stations for tracked and wheeled combat platforms, according to Krivoruchko. “We are planning to complete trials of the S-500 air defence system and to adopt it and to accept the Voronezh very-high-frequency radar into service,” he said.
The deputy minister reported that pop-up tests have already been conducted with the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, adding, “We will soon begin flight trials of this system.” (Source: Jane’s)
05 Jan 21. DOD and Mongolia Ministry of Defense Conduct 17th Annual Bilateral Consultative Council. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Heino Klinck and Mongolia Ministry of Defense State Secretary D. Gankhuyag met virtually to conduct the 17th annual U.S.-Mongolia Bilateral Consultative Council, Jan. 5 (Washington, D.C.) and Jan. 6 (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia). Mongolian Minister of Defense G. Saikhanbayar provided closing remarks.
Officials reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-Mongolia bilateral relationship and agreed to advance defense cooperation on matters of common interest to support a free and open Indo-Pacific.
DASD Klinck thanked State Secretary Gankhuyag for Mongolia’s commitment to international peace and stability, including Mongolia’s continued contributions to coalition efforts in Afghanistan and United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. DASD Klinck also discussed current regional security issues and ties between Mongolia and the United States under the third neighbor framework.
Officials committed to enhance defense cooperation and collaboration to address current security challenges and to advance common interests. (Source: US DoD)
04 Jan 21. On 21 December, Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the annual expanded meeting of the board of the Russian Defence Ministry, staged at the National Defense Management Centre in Moscow.
Putin laid down five core challenges for the board to meet going forward:
1) To maintain a high combat readiness of nuclear force triad to ensure national security and strategic parity. He referred to a document entitled ‘On the Fundamentals of State Policy in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence’ which was adopted in 2020.
2) To strengthen the potential of non-nuclear deterrent forces, primarily precision weapons.
3) The re-equipping of the army and navy with modern weapons and equipment. Putin added that, like the strategic forces, there should be no analogue equipment in the Russian military.”
4) The development of military science, “not only study the experience of modern armed conflicts and local wars, but also make forecasts for the future, including taking into account the appearance in the armies of a number of foreign states of weapons based on new physical principles.”
5) Combat training should “actively master ‘run in’ weapons and equipment with elements of artificial intelligence…including robotic complexes, unmanned aerial vehicles, automated control systems. Such a weapon significantly increases the potential of units and formations, and not only today, but also in the near future will largely determine the outcome of the battle. In addition, in the course of the upcoming West-2021 exercise, new approaches to the use of the regional grouping of the Union State should be worked out.”
Minister of Defence and General of the Army Sergei Shoigu also addressed the defence board summarising a number of priority tasks that lay ahead in 2021. He stated that the combat capabilities for the Russian Armed Forces had been improved by 13 percent in 2020, and “the development of a plan for the defence of the Russian Federation for 2021-2025” had been completed and approved.
Shoigu outlined the priority tasks facing the board in 2021. These included:1) Rearmament. “Put 13 launchers with Yars and Avangard intercontinental ballistic missiles on combat alert in the Strategic Missile Forces. To complete the construction of infrastructure for the Yars and Avangard complexes in Kozelsk, Yasny, Uzhur, Novosibirsk, Yoshkar-Ola. To equip the Severo-Yenisei test site near the settlement for flight tests of the Sarmat missile system. Start state tests of the modernised Tu-160 aircraft. Adopt into the (Naval) Fleet two nuclear-powered submarines of the Borei-A project, Prince Oleg and Generalissimo Suvorov, equipped with Bulava ballistic missiles.”
2) Supply 500+ modern armoured combat vehicles to ground, airborne and naval coastal forces. Form an anti-aircraft missile brigade in the Southern Military District. Supply 100+ new and modernised aircraft to the Air Force and Naval aviation. Radars: “complete the construction of a factory-readiness radar station in Vorkuta and put it on experimental alert duty. To begin work on the construction of the Yakhroma radar station in Sevastopol and individual over-the-horizon air target detection units in Kaliningrad and Zeya.” Add four submarines, six surface ships, 22 boats and a support vessel into the Navy.
3) “Prepare and conduct joint strategic exercises ‘West-2021’ with the Armed Forces of Russia and Belarus. Hold the Army-2021 international military-technical forum.” (Source: Armada)
04 Jan 21. Iran has restarted uranium enrichment toward 20% target, government spokesman says. Iran has restarted uranium enrichment toward a 20% target at its Fordow nuclear facility, a government spokesman said on Monday, according to the semi-official news agency Mehr and state news agency IRNA.
The resumption of the enrichment process would breach the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and the international community, implemented in 2016, that froze Iran’s nuclear program in return for a progressive lifting of international sanctions.
The country had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its intent to continue enriching the uranium at 20%, IAEA spokesman Fredrik Dahl told CNN on Friday.
Iran currently enriches its uranium stockpile up to around 4.5%, which is above the 3.67% cap imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, but far short of the 90% that is considered weapons-grade. Iran has continually denied its intent to assemble nuclear weapons.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Monday that Iran started the enrichment process a “couple of hours ago” in the Fordow site, noting that the first UF6 enriched uranium will be produced in a few hours, IRNA said.
IRNA added, citing Rabiei, that all the necessary measures, such as informing the IAEA, have been taken.
Last month, Iran’s parliament overwhelmingly endorsed a draft bill aiming to counteract sanctions imposed on its nuclear program and boost uranium enrichment, state-run Press TV said.
“The law obliges the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to produce at least 120 kg of 20% enriched uranium annually and store it inside the country,” the Mehr news agency reported. (Source: CNN)
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