China, Russia claim technical advancements, stage joint naval drill with Iran in IOR

[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 December 2019, 21:51 GMT]
The news of Russia deploying Avangard hypersonic missile, capable of transporting nuclear warheads at 27 times the speed of sound, into combat duty and China launching its heaviest communications satellite on a new powerful rocket, caught the attention of military analysts across the globe on Friday. In the meantime, China and Russia engaged in naval drills with Iran in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman, located to the east of Pakistan, another nuclear power and an ally of China in South Asia. The technological ‘advancements’ made by China and Russia and the zero-sum attitude of the USA, including its withdrawal from crucial disarmament treaties, are going to escalate the militarization of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The militarization drive affects not only the states but also the peoples without a state of their own in South Asia.

The United States had formally withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with effect from 02 August 2019 after six months of suspension.

The 1987 INF Treaty between the USA and the USSR had helped to bring about the end of the Cold War by enabling the bilateral parties to decommission more than 2,500 missiles and launchers.

However, starting in 2014, the USA was accusing Russia of non-compliance.

On its part, Russia was blaming the USA for its preparations of missile defence systems in Europe.

Starting from 2018, Russia also was announcing an array of new-generation nuclear missiles.

The only remaining bilateral nuclear arms limitation agreement between the USA and Russia, the New START Treaty, which entered into force in 2001, also expires in 2021.

Estimated global nuclear warhead inventories
[Graphics courtesy: Arms Control Association]

China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran
Increasing pattern of military and trade programmes among China, Pakistan, Russia and Iran. The UK, France and Germany have complained to the UN, in December 2019, alleging that Iran was developing nuclear-capable missiles
Meanwhile, China unconstrained by the bilateral treaties between the Cold War powers, rapidly expanded its missile capacities.

The USA has also been weakening the effect of the corner-stone multilateral Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) of 1968 by tacitly allowing non-compliance by states like India, Israel and Pakistan. The USA has been selectively opposing nuclear proliferation by the countries that it considers as ‘bad-actors’ in terms of its foreign policy choices.

Today, Pakistan has emerged as the strategic partner of China in the South Asia region. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), announced in 2015, has become the bulk of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) related activities to the west of India.

Key Indo-Pacific Energy and Trade Routes
Key Indo-Pacific Energy and Trade Routes [Graphics courtesy: US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report issued on April 20, 2018 (R45194). The CRS graphic uses data from the South China Morning Post (2017), the US Department of State (2015), Esri (2016), and DeLorme (2016)]

External Links:
France 24: Iran, China, Russia launch joint naval drills in Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman
China Daily: Roaring rocket lifts satellite into space



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