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Monday, January 20, 2020

What's going on in the World Today 200120



New U.S. Missiles in Asia Could Increase the North Korean Nuclear Threat
After withdrawing from the INF Treaty, U.S. officials have been worrying about Beijing, but as Washington starts to deploy previously banned missiles in the Pacific, the real risk will come from Pyongyang.

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty expired on Aug. 2 when the United States’ withdrawal from that agreement became official. Now, unencumbered by INF restrictions, U.S. planning has turned toward the development and deployment of previously proscribed missiles—primarily to Asia, where competition with China is an acute future concern.

But China isn’t the only major strategic concern in a post-INF Asia. What should greatly worry strategic planners in Washington is the inadvertent ways in which the deployment of new U.S. missiles in the Pacific theater might greatly increase the risk of nuclear weapons use on and around the Korean Peninsula.

A second-order effect of a new U.S. missile deployment to the region would be the complication of any attempts at diplomacy with North Korea over its nuclear program. Indeed, Kim Jong Un’s resolve to retain his nuclear capabilities would likely harden as a result.

While the beginnings of the post-INF debate in the United States have largely focused on Russia and China, it is the unintended consequences with North Korea that are most likely to raise nuclear risks in the short term.While the beginnings of the post-INF debate in the United States have largely focused on Russia and China, it is the unintended consequences with North Korea that are most likely to raise nuclear risks in the short term. Unlike China, which can be confident in its ability to retaliate, North Korea’s current command and control practices and its limited nuclear arsenal may force it to reevaluate its choices to date, taking it down a dangerous..

With an Eye Toward China, Pentagon Weighs Slashing Global Hawk Drone
The surveillance aircraft on the chopping block is a variant of the type that Iran shot down this summer.

Just months after Iran shot down an expensive U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz, the Defense Department is weighing scrapping about two-thirds of the Air Force’s roughly three dozen Global Hawk unmanned aircraft as part of a shift toward building the new capabilities needed to counter China and Russia.

The Air Force has proposed retiring as many as 21 of its 35 RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude drones, which currently collect intelligence across the Middle East and elsewhere, as part of a series of steep cuts to legacy programs, current and former U.S. defense officials told Foreign Policy. The proposal has been submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for review as part of annual budget negotiations.

“The Air Force continues to refine its budget submission,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. “We don’t expect details to be available until the President’s Budget is submitted to Congress in February 2020.”

The proposed cut is part of the Pentagon’s shift from the counterterrorism fight of the last few decades toward so-called great-power threats from China and Russia. The strategy was laid out in the Pentagon’s guiding doctrine, the National Defense Strategy, rolled out by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis in January 2018.

Both China and Russia are increasingly able to challenge the U.S. military’s superiority through a wide variety of sophisticated missiles, air defenses, and electronic capabilities that could destroy key U.S. and allied forces—even U.S. aircraft carriers.

The Pentagon’s challenge, then, is to invest in building next-generation systems that can penetrate Chinese and Russian defenses—the new B-21 stealth bomber, hypersonic missiles, and others. But to do so, the department needs cash. So, the Pentagon, led by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, has embarked on an effort to review legacy programs to see which ones it can live without...



South Korea and Japan Cool Their Trade Spat in the Name of Security

The Big Picture

Nearly five months old, the South Korea-Japan trade spat has shone a spotlight on the historical and geopolitical tensions between the two allies. Seoul's recent decision to remain in a U.S.-brokered intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo opens the way to de-escalation, but any progress toward compromise will be fraught with hurdles due to domestic considerations.

Just in the nick of time, South Korea has saved a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact with Japan. On Nov. 22, Seoul decided to provisionally extend the pact — mere hours before it expired — that it had planned to exit in retaliation for export restrictions that Tokyo imposed in response to Seoul's demands for greater compensation for the Korean wartime victims of imperial Japan. In addition, Seoul announced that it would pause its related challenge against Japan at the World Trade Organization. But even if the two have managed to halt the escalation in their miniature trade war, Seoul and Tokyo still have much work to do to truly bury the hatchet...

Russia and Ukraine Seek a Contentious New Gas Transit Deal


- Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have a shared interest in avoiding economic losses by reaching a new deal on gas transit before the current agreement expires.

- But significant obstacles — including geopolitical competition and the impact of new energy infrastructure in the region — could lead to a delay or impasse in negotiations.

- If the parties cannot reach an agreement before the current agreement expires Dec. 31, Russian gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine could well experience interruptions...






Secret documents detail inner workings of China’s mass detention camps for minorities

Secret documents detail inner workings of China’s mass detention camps for minorities

A growing body of evidence from former detainees, human rights groups and reporters documents the Chinese government’s efforts to forcibly indoctrinate more than 1 million members of ethnic minorities in camps, exposing the reality of what officials call a massive job-training initiative.

Papers released Sunday pierce a culture of intense secrecy to add a new piece of corroboration: the government’s own classified directives.

Provided to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists by an anonymous source, the documents lay bare a crackdown in Xinjiang that has sought to stamp out minority culture, language and religion — with a particular focus on the Muslim Uighurs, whom the government blames for regional unrest. A manual, the first of its kind to be made public, details the inner workings of the three-year-old detention camps, while four intelligence briefings illuminate the mass surveillance that identifies people for internment on merely the suspicion that they may cause trouble...

China: Beijing to Open Up Energy Exploration for Foreign, Private Domestic Firms

What Happened: China will open up oil and gas exploration to private and foreign companies in a move that will break the long dominance of state-run firms in the industry, Reuters reported Jan. 8.

Why It Matters: The announcement aims to boost domestic oil production amid the country's growing dependence on foreign energy supplies and the resultant fears for China's energy security. The move also highlights Beijing's desire to increase market access for international companies at a time of heightened economic uncertainty and trade disputes.

Background: China imports 70 percent of the crude oil at its refineries, while its dependence on overseas natural gas soared to 44.5 percent in 2018, leading Beijing to diversify its imports of liquefied natural gas to mitigate potential energy security vulnerabilities.


Iran’s Revenge Plans Are Bigger Than Missile Strikes

Iran will use the networks Suleimani built to avenge his death.

Zach DorfmanJanuary 8, 2020, 11:31 AM

The assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, perhaps the second most powerful person in Iran behind Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, will reverberate in the Middle East and beyond for years, and perhaps decades. But the immediate consequences, several U.S. intelligence officials say privately, will be clear: more deaths, and some of them American. Tuesday’s noisy attacks, despite the reassuring words of the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that they were a “proportionate measure,” were only the beginning.

Those killings will be carried out using tools Suleimani, who was assassinated in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike, himself built. The institution Suleimani led, the Quds Force—the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ powerful hybrid military intelligence agency and covert action wing—midwifed Shiite extremist groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Suleimani understood that, unlike Russia or China, Iran was not, and would never be, powerful enough to challenge the United States head-on. It would have to prepare for war differently. This meant establishing deterrence (in Iran’s thinking) against a U.S. attack through asymmetric means, by supporting proxy forces such as Lebanese Hezbollah, the world’s most formidable terrorist army. It also meant backing spectacular acts of violence that did not rise to the level of, and would not precipitate, full-scale war...

With Its Missile Strikes, Iran Flaunts Its Accuracy


- Iran's attacks on the Ayn al-Asad Air Base demonstrate the country's ability to accurately strike targets that are far away.

- The care with which Tehran selected its targets suggests that it only wanted to send a message to the United States without igniting a larger war.

- Iran's ability to accurately fire missiles demonstrates that it can inflict damage even on more powerful adversaries like the United States...

USAF Chief Calls for Gulf Cooperation Against Iran

Despite tensions between Gulf Cooperation Council states, the Iranian missile threat requires regional cooperation as the “best shot to defend the UAE is not always from the UAE. It may be Qatar or Oman,” says U.S. Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein.

In remarks at the Dubai International Air Chiefs conference yesterday, Goldfein sought to rally attendees representing the leadership of global and regional air forces to unite against common threats, with Iran singled out as the most immediate threat to the region.

“The region is once again threatened by a country that does not respect the sovereign borders of its neighbors,” Goldfein says...


Iraq's Nationalistic Protests Present a Tricky Test for Iran


- The current Iraqi nationalist protest movement has threatened Iran’s ability to maintain its influence in Iraq. However, Iran has the political and security ties to help the current government in Baghdad remain in place.

- Fighting to maintain its position in Iraq benefits Iran in the near term but could create blowback over the long haul.

- The current government is confident it can quell the unrest, offering only piecemeal solutions to demands for political reform, making it more likely that Iran may have to step in eventually, although it will try to do so quietly.






9M729 - SSC-8

Russia has deployed a cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, complicating Trump's approach to Russia. Michael Gordon writing in the New York Times reported 14 February 2017 that "... the Russians now have two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile. One is still located at Russia’s missile test site at Kapustin Yar in the country’s southeast. The other was shifted in December from that test site to an operational base elsewhere in the country... Each missile battalion is believed to have four mobile launchers and a larger supply of missiles."

The INF Treaty defines an intermediate-range missile as a ground-launched ballistic missile (GLBM) or GLCM having a range capability in excess of 1,000 km [about 540 nm] but not in excess of 5,500 km [2969.762 nm, but this is too precise, 3,000 nm is better]. The Treaty defines a shorter-range missile as a GLBM or GLCM having a range capability equal to or in excess of 500 km [270 nm] but not in excess of 1,000 km. A GLCM is defined as a ground-launched cruise missile that is a weapon delivery vehicle.

Russia is committed to its obligations under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said 09 March 2017. His remarks came after the Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva told Congress the previous day that Russia violated the "spirit and intent" of the INF pact by deploying a banned land-based cruise missile.

The treaty, signed by American and Soviet leaders in 1987, prohibits both countries from testing, producing and possessing land-based intermediate-range missiles. It was deemed as a cornerstone of global arms control and helped end the Cold War. "Russia fully complies with the INF treaty, although it does not totally meet our interests," Peskov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee of Russia's upper house of parliament, said Russia strictly observes the arms control treaty and called the repeated U.S. accusations groundless. "Let them present the facts of these violations. We have heard enough baseless conversations lately," Ozerov said.

The 9M729 is by some accounts a variant of the 9M728 missiles, and its improved version - an extended-range missile - a new land-launched "Garnet." The 9M729 SSC-X-8 is a long-range ground-based cruise missile system. According to Western reports, the rocket is a land version of the SS-N-30 3M14 missile complex "Caliber-NK" and developed OKB "Innovator" (Ekaterinburg). From the report of the 2014 GosNIIP - "management system for 9M728 / 9M729 missiles and its improved version" has passed state tests.

The missile’s assessed range is between 300 miles and 3,400 miles — the distance covered under the landmark INF treaty that banned an entire class of intermediate-range missiles. The missile is made by the normal aerodynamic scheme with wings folded in the fuselage of the missile in the transport position. The missile is equipped with a starting solid propellant, which fires after the launch. The control system and guidance of the cruise missile is presumably inertial control system (autopilot) with Doppler sensors drift angle correction according to satellite navigation systems GLONASS and GPS. At the final stage it may use active radar homing.

There is speculation that the missile is a surface option CBRC X-101 with a range of over 5,500 km [about 3,000 nm]. Creation and testing of such missiles in the ground form is recognized by Western observers in violation of the Treaty on the Reduction of INF, which was signed in 1987 between the Soviet Union and the United States...


The Factors Motivating Turkey in Libya

Turkey's parliament voted on Jan. 2 to authorize the deployment of Turkish troops to support Libya's U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord, led by Fayez al-Sarraj. Opposition political parties and some observers identified this move as a dangerous one that likely will result in the Turkish military entering into a civil war in which Turkey has no significant national interest and where it cannot realistically achieve its objectives. With three military interventions in Syria, it can be assumed that the deployment of Turkish troops to Libya is a full expression of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ambition to expand his country's military footprint across the region. Despite appearances, however, this aim does not seem to be Erdogan's main or sole intention...

Emirati Eye in the Sky Goes Public

The GlobalEye is emerging into public view for the first time anywhere at the Dubai Airshow 2019.

The United Arab Emirates Air Force’s new airborne early warning platform, the Saab GlobalEye, has made its public debut four years after contracts were signed at the Dubai Airshow.

A heavily modified derivative of Bombardier’s Global 6000 business jet, the GlobalEye – previously known as the Swing-Role Surveillance System (SRSS) – takes aloft a multi-sensor suite of Saab’s self-developed Erieye ER S-band airborne early warning radar, Leonardo Seaspray 7500E active electronically scanned array surface search radar for land and sea surveillance, while an under-nose fairing contains an electro-optical camera system, allowing long-range visual identification of targets.

The UAE ordered two GlobalEyes at the 2015 Dubai Airshow and later followed with an order for an additional aircraft...

Top U.S. General: It’s ‘Very Possible’ Iran Will Attack Again
The threat from Tehran continues to increase despite U.S. military buildup, U.S. Central Command’s Gen. Kenneth McKenzie says.

MANAMA, Bahrain—Since May, the Pentagon has dispatched 14,000 additional U.S. troops, an aircraft carrier, and tens of thousands of pounds of military equipment to the Middle East to respond to what it says are alarming new threats from Iran. But despite the stepped-up U.S. military posture, the top U.S. general in the region believes the Iranian threat continues to rise—and Tehran is likely to continue lashing out.

“I think the strike on Saudi Aramco in September is pretty indicative of a nation that is behaving irresponsibly,” said Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, in a Friday interview, referring to the Sept. 14 Iran-sponsored attack on Saudi facilities that took half of Riyadh’s oil production offline.

“My judgment is that it is very possible they will attack again.”

McKenzie, who stepped into his new job in March, assumed command of the world’s most volatile theater at a particularly turbulent time. Over the past eight months, the Taliban has intensified attacks in Afghanistan, Turkey invaded northeast Syria, the Islamic State has threatened to resurge, and Yemen continues to be the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. But Iran is the one common thread undermining regional stability through direct attacks on its neighbors, supporting disruptive proxies such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and increasingly penetrating Iraq and Syria...


China’s Surveillance State Has Eyes on Central Asia

Autocrats are handing their citizens’ data to Beijing under so-called smart city programs.

China’s advanced surveillance regime is taking root along the length of the Belt and Road—especially the Belt, the overland Eurasian routes that were the origin of the government’s ambitious investment project. Recently, Kyrgyzstan opened a new police command center in its capital, Bishkek, putting its new facial recognition cameras to work. The equipment was supplied—reportedly free of charge—by the China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation, a defense company currently sanctioned by the United States.

The initiative is part of Bishkek’s emerging effort to become a so-called smart city—a catchall term for cities with advanced data-processing capabilities. Such projects are being implemented across the region with help from China. This April, Huawei closed a $1 billion deal with Uzbekistan to build a traffic-monitoring system involving some 883 cameras. Meanwhile Hikvision—another Chinese company under U.S. sanctions that advertises its ability to spot the faces of members of the Uighur minority in crowds—supplies major urban centers across Kazakhstan, including Almaty and Shymkent. Kazakhstan has been experimenting with developing smart cities since 2017...







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