Category Archives: International Relation

International Relation: About G-7

About: G-7

  • G-7 or ‘Group of Seven’ is the group of the largest advanced economies of the world comprising of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.
  • It is the only forum where the world’s most influential and democratic, open societies and advanced economies gather for discussions.
  • G-7 has its origins in an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 by the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Canada joined the group in 1976.
  • The European Union began attending the G-7 Summits in 1977. It holds all the rights and responsibilities of full members except to chair or host the meeting.
  • The G-7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters.
  • Scope:
    • The initial scope of this group was to discuss economic issues.
    • With time, the scope of deliberations was expanded to other critical challenges, like financial crises, terrorism, arms control and drug trafficking etc.

  • G7 to G8 to G7:
    • Russia joined the G-7 in 1997 and now, G-7 was named as G-8.
    • However, Russia was expelled from G-7 in 2014 after it annexed Crimea region of Ukraine. This was seen by other members as violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukraine.
    • Thus, G-8 again became G-7.

  • Summits:
    • Annual summits of G-7 are organised and presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis.
    • The decisions taken by leaders during annual G-7 summits are non-binding.

  • In the recent decades, the global relevance of G-7 has reduced with rise of other economies like China, India and Brazil. Moreover, the share in global GDP of G-7 countries has now fallen to around 40% from about 70% when it was formed.

India and G-7

  • India attended the extended G-7 meet in 2019 which was held in France. The Indian PM was invited as a special guest by the French President.
  • India was also invited for the 2020 summit hosted by the US — which could not take place due to the pandemic.
  • India had earlier attended the G-8 summit (it became G-7 from G-8 with the expulsion of Russia in 2014) five times between 2005 and 2009.

Expanding G7:

  • In 2020, the US President Trump said that G-7 as it exists today doesn’t fully represent the current state of global politics and economics.
  • He wanted to include 4 more countries- India, Australia, South Korea and Russia in it. This grouping will be called as G-10 or G-11 depending upon whether Russia is included or not.
  • However, Russia’s admission will depend on many factors.
    • For example, some of the G7 countries like Germany are opposed to Russia rejoining the group.
    • Geopolitically, Russia is also seen as an ally of China and has been critical of the US in recent times.
    • But, some sections of the strategic community in the US want the US to develop tactical ties with Russia to balance China.

Q. If Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wants to remain as relevant and look toward a new phase of Asia-Pacific economic integration, it must include India as its member. Comment.

Model Answer

  • APEC was established in 1989 as an intergovernmental platform for 21 Pacific Rim member economies to promote free-trade in the region.
  • The grouping is facing the heat of unilateralism and protectionism. Competition and divergence in the form of US-China tensions was on full display at the 2018 APEC summit
  • As a result, a debate pertaining to the question of the forum’s enlargement, with pointed reference to India, has started.

APEC Needs India

  • Economic strength of India – As the region’s third largest and one of the fastest growing major economy, India presents the most promising market in the wider Asia-Pacific. India’s burgeoning middle class is estimated to become 450 million in 2030. Also India aspires to become a $5 trillion economy.
  • Boost to the economic activities – APEC economies are experiencing sluggish growth. Hence, adding India to APEC would augment regional trade and investment.
  • Labour Supply – India’s labor force, which will be the largest in the world by 2030, will help offset the impact of aging populations and shrinking work forces in APEC economies.
  • Legitimate stakeholder in regional and global governance – India is second largest democracy in the world and an important player in Indo-pacific arena.
  • Complementarity – Outside the west Europe, most of the capital surplus nations are in Asia Pacific. On the other hand, India badly needs investment.
  • Emergence of Indo-Pacific Concept – India has emerged as a key player which is central to the Indo-Pacific concept.

Conclusion

  • Strength of the APEC grouping can be gauged from the fact that it represents more than a third of the world population, 47% of global trade and 60% of world GDP.
  • However, declining multilateralism, increasing protectionism and incidents like trade war are creating a pressure on this institution to reform.
  • Hence, it can be said that without India APEC would not only remain incomplete but also unable to reinvent itself. India, on the other hand, will have to ensure economic reforms and openness to qualify for APEC membership.

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What is the Chagos Islands dispute about?

Headline : What is the Chagos Islands dispute about?

Details :

The News:

  • Mauritius has called the UK an “illegal colonial occupier” after it ignored a UN mandated deadline to return the Chagos Islands.
  • Chagos is a small archipelago (group of islands) in the Indian Ocean.

About: Chagos Islands

  • The Chagos Islands are a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • This chain of islands is the southernmost archipelago of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a long submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean.

 

Background of the Dispute

  • Mauritius was a British colony Mauritius was a British colony from 1810 and gained its independence in 1968.
  • In 1965, Mauritius was forced to give up the Chagos Archipelago in exchange for independence.
  • Britain purchased it and created the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and since then, Chagos islands remained a British overseas territory.
  • In 1971, UK allowed the United States to build a military base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands and evicted the entire population from the islands.
  • Since independence of Mauritius, the sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago is disputed between the UK and Mauritius.
  • In 2017, the UN General Assembly asked the ICJ to offer its opinion on the sovereignty claim of the Chagos Islands.
  • In February 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its Advisory Opinion, ruled that the United Kingdom claim over the island as illegal and should end its control. It asked the ordered UK to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius and ruled that continued British occupation of the island is illegal.

ICJ decision however is non-binding:

  • The majority decision by the international court of justice in The Hague is non-binding and only advisory in nature.
  • However it is seen as significant as the unambiguous clarity of the judges pronouncement is a humiliating blow to Britain’s prestige on the world stage.

UNGA voted for UK to give up Chagos:

  • In May 2019, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Chagos Islands being returned – with 116 states backing the move and only six against.
  • The UN said that the decolonisation of Mauritius by Britain was not conducted “in a manner consistent with the right to self-determination” and that therefore the continued administration of the territory “constitutes a wrongful act”.

 

News Summary:                 

  • The UN had given the UK six months to give up control of the Chagos Islands – but that period has now passed.
  • The UK continues to insist that it does not recognise Mauritius’ claim to sovereignty, and insists it has every right to hold onto the islands – one of which, Diego Garcia, is home to a US military airbase.
  • As the six-month period came to a close at the end of November, the Mauritian Prime Minister said the UK was now an “illegal colonial occupier”.

 

Way ahead:

  • The deadline is not binding, so no sanctions or immediate punishment will follow – but that could change.
  • However, UN maps could start reflecting the legal fact that the UN sees this islands as belonging to Mauritius.
  • Also, Britain is going to find itself under pressure at institutions like the ICJ that it has traditionally seen as very important.
Section : International Relation

Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed, Lakhvi, Dawood Ibrahim declared terrorists under new anti-terror law

Headline : Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed, Lakhvi, Dawood Ibrahim declared terrorists under new anti-terror law

Details :

The News:

  • India has declared Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, LeT’s supreme commander of operations in Kashmir Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, all based in Pakistan, as terrorists under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
  • Earlier, only groups or organisations could be declared as terrorists but after the amendment, individuals could also be declared as terrorists.

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In brief about the Declared Terrorists:

Masood Azhar:

  • The JeM chief was involved in attacks on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly complex in 2001, attack on Parliament in 2001, attack on Pathankot airbase in 2016, attacks on BSF camp in Srinagar in 2017 and Pulwama attack on February 14.
  • Azhar was also designated as a global terrorist by the UN under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 on May 1, 2019, and was declared as a proclaimed offender by the special judge (POTA)

Hafiz Saeed:

  • He was involved in various attacks, including Red Fort in 2000, a CRPF camp in Rampur (Uttar Pradesh), in Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people were killed and the attack on a BSF convoy at Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi:

  • He was involved in Red Fort attack in 2000, Rampur CRPF camp in 2008, Mumbai in 2008 and on a BSF convoy at Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir.

Dawood Ibrahim:

  • Dawood ran an international underworld crime syndicate and was involved in perpetrating acts of terror, promoting religious fundamentalism, terror financing, arms smuggling, circulation of counterfeit currency, money laundering, narcotics, extortion and benami real estate business in India and abroad.
  • Dawood was also involved in assassination attempts on prominent personalities to create social disharmony and terrorise common man.
  • Dawood also executed a series of bomb blasts along with his associates in Mumbai in March 1993, which resulted in deaths of 257 people and injured over 1000 others apart from the destruction of properties on a massive scale.

News Summary:

  • All the four blacklisted terror masterminds are already tagged as ‘global terrorists’ under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 and are also subjects of Interpol red corner notices.
  • In August 2019, UAPA was amended to allow the government to ban individual terrorists if it believed they are involved in terrorism.
  • Notifying the names of the Pakistan-based terror masterminds in the Fourth Schedule to UAPA brings the Indian terror blacklist in sync with the UN list of designated terrorists.
  • This also conforms to FATF standards that require all member countries to ban those designated as global terrorists.
  • The ‘individual terrorist’ tag would help Indian agencies with investigation, prosecution and trial of cases registered against the notified terrorists.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019

Designation as Terrorist :

The central government may designate an organisation as well as an individual (added in the recent amendment ) as a terrorist if it:

  • commits or participates in acts of terrorism,
  • prepares for terrorism,
  • promotes terrorism, or
  • is otherwise involved in terrorism. 

Approval for seizure of property by NIA:

  • An investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.
  • If the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property (added in recent amendment).

Investigating Officer:

  • Investigation of cases may be conducted by:
    • Officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or
    • Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
    • Inspectors of the National Investigation Agency(added in recent amendment).

NIA’s powers:

  • The NIA (which is under the control of the central government) can go to any state without taking permission from state police concerned for checking anti-terror activities.

Note: The designation of an individual as a global terrorist by the United Nations is associated with sanctions, including travel bans, freezing of assets and an embargo against procuring arms. However, the UAPA Bill does not provide any such detail.

Concerns regarding the UAPA Act:

  • The power of NIA (which is under the control of the central government) to any state without taking permission from state police concerned for checking anti-terror activities has been opposed fearing it would amount to encroaching upon the rights of the states.
  • The law it could be misused against political opponents and civil society activists who spoke against the government may be branded as “terrorists.”

Section : Defence & Security

International Relation: Old new friends Editorial 24th Aug’19 IndianExpress : India and France and equation with P-5

Headline : Old new friends Editorial 24th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Details :

For long, India did not reciprocate France’s efforts for greater relationship:

  • For nearly four decades, from 1980s, successive French presidents made repeated efforts to elevate the engagement with India to a higher level.
  • While France was eager for greater relationship with India, India was distracted and preoccupied with other major powers — US, Russia and China — and burdened by its inherited bias towards Britain.
  • As a result, Delhi could hardly appreciate the pivotal value of France, and more broadly that of Europe, in transforming India’s international position.

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This changed over the recent years:

  • The one-sided interest has begun to change as Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid greater strategic attention to France and Europe in the first term.
  • Many pending issues relating to Europe were sorted out during 2014-19.
  • However, it was the boosting of ties with France that stood out as an important feature of Modi’s foreign policy in the first term.
  • The PM’s summit with French President in August 2019, and participation in the G-7 outreach in Paris marks the strengthening of the bilateral strategic partnership that was unveiled in 1998.

Critical time for the two countries due to cracks in international order:

  • The closer ties between France and India driven by their leaders (Macron and Modi) is coming at a critical time for the two countries.
  • The relative harmony between the major powers seen since the Cold War is now coming to an end.
  • The growing tensions between the US on the one hand and China and Russia on the other are having international impact.
  • Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s actions and rhetoric are leading to increasing differences in the Western countries.

India facing complications in relationships with world powers:

  • With China:
    • The rapid rise of China — and the expanding gap in the national power in its favour — have altered the balance of power in India’s neighbourhood.
  • With Russia:
    • During the Cold War, India had turned to the Soviet Union to ensure a stable regional balance.
    • In the last few years, Russia has been drawing steadily closer to China, for its own strategic reasons unrelated to India. 
    • Russia’s broader and deeper economic and political relationship with China means India will find it harder to rely on Russia to balance China.
  • With the US in the Trump era:
    • After the turbulent 1990s (over nonproliferation and Kashmir), India and US settled into a period of stable and expanding partnership between 2001 and 2017 (under the presidencies of George Bush and Obama).
    • The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House in early 2017 has begun to produce complications for India on a range of issues — from bilateral trade to regional and global affairs.
    • While Trump is not trying to target India in particular, Delhi has been affected by sweeping changes in the foreign, economic and national security policies unleashed by Trump.
      • He has turned hostile to the WTO and walked away from many multilateral arrangements.
      • He has been harsh on long-standing US allies for being a burden on the American exchequer.
      • As he withdraws from some of the conflict zones, Trump insists that America’s allies and friends do more for their own security. His recent call on India to join the fight against Islamic State in Afghanistan is part of that belief system.

Other major nations also concerned by US, China and Russia:

  • Trump’s presidency has unnerved most of America’s partners in Europe and Asia.
  • For many nations, including India and France, coping with the muscular assertiveness of China, the resurgence of Russia and the retrenchment of America become the central challenge of their foreign and security policies.

India and France can help build new coalitions for an uncertain era:

  • In the current international context, India and France recognise the urgency of constructing coalitions that can provide a measure of stability in an increasingly unstable world.
  • France (which had sought strategic autonomy within the framework of its alliance with the US) and India (which has valued independent foreign policy) are natural partners in building the new coalitions for an uncertain era.
  • India and France see that strengthening bilateral cooperation and building coalitions with like-minded countries is critical for the protection of their long term interests. 

Five-fold agenda for India and France

  • The new imperatives driving India and France have manifested themselves in a five-fold agenda for the leaders of the two countries.
  • Enhancing bilateral cooperation in strategic sectors including AI:
    • France has always been an important partner in the development of advanced technologies.
    • This is set to advance further with the consolidation of civil nuclear cooperation and enhancing space cooperation.
    • The recent summit saw the placing of artificial intelligence and the unfolding digital revolution at the top of the bilateral agenda.
  • Buyer-seller relationship to Make in India in defence:
    • The two nations must show a new commitment to go beyond the buyer-seller relationship in the field of weapons procurement.
    • When India comes up with clear policies for making arms in India, the synergies between India’s large defence market and the French strengths in armament production would come into full play.
  • Increased political cooperation:
    • Political cooperation between India and France is relatively new, beginning with French support for India in limiting international sanctions on Delhi after its 1998 nuclear tests.
    • Today, France has emerged as India’s most reliable partner on issues relating to terrorism and Kashmir.
  • Regional partnership in the Indo-Pacific:
    • The relationship between India and France has gone beyond the bilateral to focus on the regional. 
    • India and France have have agreed to intensify maritime and naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean and more broadly the Indo-Pacific.
    • There is a sweeping and ambitious ocean agenda awaiting the two countries — from maritime governance to oceanographic research and from interoperability between their armed forces to capacity building in the littoral.
  • Global agenda-setting together:
    • It is the prospect of global agenda-setting that is beginning to make the India-France strategic partnership very exciting.
    • After their joint efforts to limit climate change and develop the Solar Alliance (ISA), India and France have turned to more ambitious ideas.
    • The road map on cybersecurity and digital technology issued during Modi-Macron summit in 2019 provides the framework for long-term cooperation on a set of issues, whose weight is growing by the day.

Way ahead – deeper engagement with Europe on global issues:

  • France also opens the pathway for deeper engagement with Europe on global issues.
  • Since independence, India has experimented with different institutions — including the NAM and BRICS — to shape global norms.
  • The new partnerships with France, Germany and other like-minded countries like Japan could turn out to be far more consequential for India’s influence on the global stage.

Importance:

GS Paper II: International Relations

FATF group ‘blacklists’ Pakistan

Headline : FATF group ‘blacklists’ Pakistan

Details :In News:

  • In a huge victory for India, the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering and Terror Financing (APG) has put Pakistan in the Enhanced Expedited Follow Up List (Blacklist) for its failure to meet its standards.
  • The APG is one of nine regional affiliates of the FATF.

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Background:

  • In June 2018, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Pakistan on the ‘grey list’, because of its deficiencies in the anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime.
  • Grey-listed countries are those whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Pakistan was given a 27-point action plan that was to be implemented by September 2019, and its progress on these 27 points is being monitored by the FATF Asia-Pacific sub-group (APG).
  • If Pakistan does not act based on the action plan of FATF, it could be placed in the Blacklist that comes with stringent restrictions on its financial system.
  • In February 2019, FATF continued the ‘Grey’ listing of Pakistan.

News Summary:

  • The APG recently discussed a five-year review of the Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) for Pakistan.
  • Pakistan failed in 32 of 40 ‘compliance’ parameters for its legal and financial systems, and failed 10 of 11 ‘effectiveness’ parameters for enforcing safeguards against terror-financing and money-laundering.
  • Pakistan has been placed on the lowest rung, or Enhanced Expedited Follow Up List (Blacklist), of the APG for non-compliance and non-enforcement of safeguards against terror financing and money laundering.
  • The APG’s final report will be published in October.

Impact:

  • While the placing does not bring any new punitive measures on Pakistan, it will mean quarterly reporting to the group on improvement in its financial safeguards.
  • The APG process is one of three review processes that Pakistan faces in the next few months.
  • In early September, the APG will meet again, to take forward the main 15-month process of Pakistan’s FATF evaluation.
  • APG will present its recommendations for the FATF plenary session in Paris in mid-October.

FATF review in October:

  • At present, Pakistan is on the “greylist” of the FATF. It is at the risk of being blacklisted by FATF, if it does not take appropriate compliance action against its 27-point action plan, before the October 2019.
  • The Paris FATF plenary in October will decide whether to remove Pakistan from the greylist, continue the listing, or downgrade it to a blacklist of non-cooperative countries.
  • The downgrade might not occur, given that any three countries in the FATF can veto it, and Pakistan is likely to secure the backing of China, Turkey and Malaysia.
  • However, the APG decision on Friday would make it difficult for Pakistan to extricate itself from the greylist.

About: Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  • The Financial Action Task Force is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
  • In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing.
  • It is also termed as “international terror financing watchdog”.
  • The FATF Can be seen as a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • The FATF has developed a series of recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and terror financing.
  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Members:

  • Currently, FATF consists of 39 members, including
    • 37 member jurisdictions with voting powers
    • Two regional organisations – the European Commission and the Gulf Co-operation Council
  • India is a member, as well as important countries like China, US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
  • Interestingly, Hong Kong is also a separate member jurisdiction. 
  • Pakistan is not a member.
  • Indonesia is an FATF Observer.
  • Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), Eurasian Group (EAG), Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT) etc. are FATF Associate Members.

Functions

  • Sets international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures
  • Assesses and monitors compliance with the FATF standards
  • Conducts typologies studies of money laundering and terrorist financing methods, trends and techniques
  • Responds to new and emerging threats, such as proliferation financing

Lists maintained by FATF

  • FATF maintains two different lists of countries:
  • Grey List:
    • Those countries that have deficiencies in their Anti Money Laundering /Counter Terrorist Financing (AML/CTF) regimes but they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes.
    • There are eight countries in Grey list: Pakistan, Ethiopia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.
  • Black List:
    • The FATF black list means the country concerned is “non-cooperative” in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
    • Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether.
    • There are two countries in the blacklist: Iran and North Korea
  • Note:Following grey listing, three reviews are conducted, followed by a round at which it will be decided whether a country is to be blacklisted.

About: Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG)

  • The APG is the FATF-style autonomous regional anti-money laundering body for the Asia-Pacific region, established by unanimous agreement among 13 original founding members.
  • Its secretariat was established in Sydney, Australia. 
  • APG is an FATF Associate Member.
  • It is an inter-governmental organisation founded in 1997 in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • The mutual evaluation process by the APG is separate from the FATF but it is based on the implementation of 40 FATF recommendations.
  • It consists of 41 member jurisdictions, focused on ensuring that its members effectively implement the international standards against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing related to weapons of mass destruction.

Primary FunctionsofAPG

  • Mutual evaluations: The APG assesses the levels of compliance by its member jurisdictions with the global Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism standards through a mutual evaluation (peer review) programme.
  • Global engagement:  The APG contributes to international Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism policy development and actively engages with the global network of FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs). The APG also participates in a number of FATF working groups and in its plenary meetings.
  • Technical assistance and training: The APG Secretariat coordinates bi-lateral and donor-agency technical assistance and training in the Asia/Pacific region for its member jurisdictions in order to improve compliance with the global standards.

Section : International Relation

Everything about About Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)

Headline : US ends Cold War nuke treaty with aim of countering China

Details :

In News:
  • The USA has withdrawn from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed in 1987.
About INF Treaty
  • The missile crisis of 1970s and 80s represented the high-point of cold war, with both USA (and its NATO allies) on one side and USSR on the other, building up their nuclear arsenal.
  • In this backdrop, the landmark  Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987 aimed to arrest the global arms race of the time.
  • The INF treaty put an obligation on the parties (USA, NATO allies and Russia) to eliminate and permanently abjure all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
    • The INF treaty does not cover missiles launched from air or water.
  • As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed nearly 2,700 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of 1991.
Background to US withdrawal:
  • Russian missile development:
    • The United States has since 2014 been alleging that Russia was in violation of its INF Treaty obligations.
    • It said that for years Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the US and its allies, particularly in Europe.
  • Chinese missile development:
    • The US officials said that China also was making similar noncompliant weapons, leaving the US alone in complying with the aging arms control pact.
    • Russia was also concerned about the treaty as it prevents it from possessing weapons that its neighbors, such as China, are developing and fielding.
News Summary:
  • With worries over Russian and Chinese missiles, the US suspended its own obligations under the INF Treaty in early 2019 and formally announced its intention to withdraw from the treaty.
  • Russia also announced that Russia will be officially suspending its treaty obligations as well.
  • With the expiry of 6 months since US announced its intention to withdraw, the US has now formally withdrawn from the INF Treaty.
Way ahead
US to develop intermediate range missiles:
  • After exiting the treaty, the US is free to develop weapons systems that were previously banned.
  • The US plans to test a new missile in coming weeks that would have been prohibited under the INF.
  • However, some experts say that the US is now years away from effectively deploying weapons previously banned under the INF agreement.
New START treaty under threat:
  • Arms control advocates worry that America’s exit from the INF treaty will lead the two nations (US and Russia) to also scrap the larger New START treaty, which expires in early 2021.
  • Trump hasn’t committed to extending or replacing New START, which beginning in 2018 imposed limits on the number of US and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers.
Calls for inclusion of China in arms control agreements:
  • The US administration claims that with China’s growing arsenal of nuclear warheads, Beijing can no longer be excluded from nuclear arms control agreements.
  • Most experts now assess that China has the most advanced conventional missile arsenal in the world, based throughout the mainland.
  • US President Trump has expressed a desire to negotiate a trilateral arms control deal signed by the US, Russia and China.
About: START Treaties
START I:
  • START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a bilateral treaty between the US and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet, in short) on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.
  • The treaty barred its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and bombers.
  • It had a duration of 15 years. Reductions mandated by the treaty were to be completed no later than 7 years after its entry into force, and parties were then obligated to maintain those limits during the next 8 years.
  • START includes an intrusive verification regime consisting of a detailed data exchange, extensive notifications, 12 types of on-site inspection, and continuous monitoring activities designed to help verify that signatories are complying with their treaty obligations.
  • It was signed in 1991, and entered into force in 1994 (delay in enforcement was due to break up of the Soviet Union).
  • Significance:
    • Start-I played an indispensable role in ensuring the predictability and stability of the strategic balance and serving as a framework for even deeper reductions.
    • By the time of the treaty’s expiration, the US and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals were significantly below those stipulated in the treaty.
  • Issues:
    • START I proved to be excessively complicated, cumbersome and expensive to continue, which eventually led the United States and Russia to replace it with a new treaty in 2010.
New START:
  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was signed in 2010 in Prague and entered into force in 2011.
  • The treaty capped deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs at 1,550 while the deployed missiles and heavy bombers assigned to nuclear missions were limited to 700.
  • Both Russia and the United States announced that they met New START limitations by 2018, meeting the due date set by the treaty.
  • New START does not limit the number of non-deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, but it does monitor them and provide for continuous information on their locations and on-site inspections to confirm that they are not added to the deployed force.
  • Non-deployed missiles must be located at specified facilities away from deployment sites and labeled with “unique identifiers” to reduce concerns about hidden missile stocks.
  • New START’s verification regime includes relevant parts of START I as well as new provisions to cover items not previously monitored.
  • The treaty’s duration is ten years from entry into force (i.e till 2021) unless it is superseded by a subsequent agreement and can be extended for an additional five years.
Section : International Relation

In Brief: ISIS and It’s Rise and Fall

About ISIS

  • The Islamic State, or ISIS, is a militant organization that emerged as an offshoot of al Qaeda in 2014.
  • It was founded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi.
  • It quickly took control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, raising its black flag in victory and declaring the creation of a caliphate and imposing strict Islamic rule.
  • The militants’ goal is an ultra-conservative caliphate that strictly enforces Shariah, or Islamic law.

Role of Territory acquisition

  • The ISIS group collected taxes from millions of people residing over the occupied territory, which made them the world’s richest terrorist group.
  • The terrorist group used the tax money to make a number of innovations including learning how to manufacture their own weapons, their own rockets and mortars, making them self-sufficient and recruiting tens of thousands of foreign fighters.
  • So, territory was crucial to the heights they could reach as a terrorist organisation.
  • The loss of territory means they no longer have the ability to collect taxes.
  • However, it has lost its territory but it still has thousands of ISIS fighters just in Iraq and Syria and also has its presence outside Iraq and Syria.

Growing influence outside Iran and Syria:

  • ISIS’s presence is strong and growing in Afghanistan, in the Philippines and in West Africa.
  • According to United Nations report estimates, in Afghanistan there are 2,500 fighters.

Influence in India

  • India has close to 200 million Muslims and it could influence less than 100 persons to travel to join the group in Iraq and Syria.
  • The low numbers points out the efforts at countering radicalisation and plurality of the society that might have helped in stopping the ISIS message seeping down.
  • ISIS Threat in Kashmir
    • There have been instances of ISIS flag being displayed in Kashmir. However, the extent and amount of coordination of ISIS’s support in the Valley is unclear.
Section : Defence & Security

Dozen insurgent camps ‘smashed’ along India-Myanmar border in joint military operation

The News

  • Recently, the armies of India and Myanmar conducted a “coordinated operation” against insurgents in Myanmar territory to avert a possible threat to the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project.

 

Kaladan multi-model transit transport project

  • India entered into a framework agreement with Myanmar in April 2008 to facilitate implementation of the project.
  • Objective: To create a multi-modal sea, river and road transport corridor for shipment of cargo from the eastern ports of India to Myanmar through Sittwe port as well as to North-Eastern part of India via Myanmar.
  • It has three different stretches involving:
    • Shipping
    • Inland Water
    • Road transport
  • The longest among of them is shipping segment from Kolkata to Sittwe port (approx 540 km) in Myanmar.
  • On the Indian side, work is on to extend the Aizawl-Saiha National Highway by 90 km to the international border at Zorinpui.

 

 

Significance:

  • The Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project is being viewed as India’s gateway to the Southeast Asia
  • It is expected to contribute to the economic development of the North-Eastern States of India, by opening up the sea route for the products.
  • It also provides a strategic link to the North-East, thereby reducing pressure on the Siliguri Corridor.
  • The project not only serves the economic, commercial and strategic interests of India, but also contributes to the development of Myanmar, and its economic integration with India.
  • Being a key connectivity project, it will promote economic, commercial and strategic links between India and Myanmar.
  • Furthermore, the project will help India counterbalance China’s growing influence in Myanmar.

 

News Summary:

  • The Assam Rifles has the responsibility to guard the international border with Myanmar.
  • After a series of meetings between personnel from both the countries, it was decided to carry out the coordinated operation.
  • The focus of the operation was to repress the members of the Arakan Army, an insurgent group in Myanmar.
  • During the operation, the Indian Army enhanced the security along the border from Nagaland and Manipur to ensure that the insurgents do not cross over to the Indian side.
  • The Indian Army also helped the Myanmarese Army by providing them intelligence.
  • There were also inputs that some members of the Arakan Army were also planning to sneak into India.
  • Setting up of camps by the insurgent groups was being viewed as a grave concern by armies of the two countries.
  • Around a dozen insurgent operating bases and camps were smashed along the India-Myanmar border.
  • The operation was also undertaken keeping in view the safety of Indian workers engaged in the project.
  • Additional troops were moved to the international border areas, besides deploying the Assam Rifles personnel.

 

Section : Environment & Ecology