China Fires Missiles Around Taiwan In Major Military Drills

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (C) being welcomed by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (L) after landing at Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan on August 2, 2022. Taiwanese Foreign Ministry / Handout / Anadolu Agency
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (C) being welcomed by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (L) after landing at Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan on August 2, 2022. Taiwanese Foreign Ministry / Handout / Anadolu Agency

 

China fired ballistic missiles and deployed fighter jets and warships on Thursday as it held its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan, a show of force sparked by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.

Pelosi was the highest-profile US official to visit Taiwan in years, defying a series of stark threats from Beijing, which views the self-ruled island as its territory.

In retaliation, China launched a series of exercises in multiple zones around Taiwan, straddling some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and at some points just 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the island’s shore.

The drills began around 12 noon local time (0400 GMT), and involved a “conventional missile firepower assault” in waters to the east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said.

Taiwan said the Chinese military fired 11 Dongfeng-class ballistic missiles “in several batches” and condemned the exercises as “irrational actions that undermine regional peace”.

Taipei did not say where the missiles landed or whether they flew over the island.

But Japan, a key US ally, said that of the nine missiles it had detected, four were “believed to have flown over Taiwan’s main island”.

READ ALSO27 Chinese Warplanes Enter Taiwan’s Air Defence Zone: Taipei

Tokyo has lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing over the exercises, with Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi saying five of the missiles were believed to have landed in his country’s exclusive economic zone.

Taipei’s defence ministry said it had detected 22 Chinese fighter jets briefly crossing the Taiwan Strait’s “median line” during Thursday’s exercises.

AFP journalists on the border island of Pingtan saw several small projectiles flying into the sky followed by plumes of white smoke and loud booming sounds.

On the mainland, at what is said to be China’s closest point to Taiwan, AFP saw a batch of five military helicopters flying at a relatively low altitude near a popular tourist spot.

Beijing has said the drills will last until midday on Sunday.

‘Unprecedentedly Close Range’ 

Tourists look on as a Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan island, one of mainland China’s closest point from Taiwan, in Fujian province on August 4, 2022, ahead of massive military drills off Taiwan following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP)

 

Beijing has defended the drills as “necessary and just”, pinning the blame for the escalation on the United States and its allies.

“In the face of this blatant provocation, we have to take legitimate and necessary countermeasures to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing Thursday.

Military analysts told Beijing’s state broadcaster CCTV that the goal was to practice a possible blockade of the island and contain its pro-independence forces.

“The purpose is to show that the PLA is capable of controlling all the exits of the Taiwan Island, which will be a great deterrent to ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces,” Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at China’s Naval Research Institute, said.

“The operations are conducted in an unprecedentedly close range to the Taiwan Island,” Meng Xiangqing, a military expert, stressed.

“The operations will leave a deterrence effect that is stronger than ever before.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had contacted Beijing “at every level of government” in recent days to call for calm and stability.

“I hope very much that Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity,” Blinken told ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh.

Speaking at the same meeting, Japan’s foreign minister called for an ‘immediate stop’ to China’s military drills near Taiwan.

“China’s actions this time have a serious impact on the peace and stability of the region and the international community,” Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

The manoeuvres are taking place along some of the busiest shipping routes on the planet, used to supply vital semiconductors and electronic equipment produced in East Asian factory hubs to global markets.

Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau has issued warnings to ships to avoid the areas being used for the Chinese drills.

The Taiwanese cabinet said the drills would disrupt 18 international routes passing through its flight information region (FIR).

 ‘A Clear Escalation’

 

Taiwan’s 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but that threat has intensified under President Xi Jinping, China’s most assertive ruler in a generation.

Analysts said the Chinese leadership is keen to project strength ahead of a crucial ruling party meeting this autumn at which Xi is expected to be given an unprecedented third term.

“China’s announced military exercises represent a clear escalation from the existing baseline of Chinese military activities around Taiwan and from the last Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-1996,” said Amanda Hsiao, senior analyst for China at the International Crisis Group.

“Beijing is signalling that it rejects Taiwan’s sovereignty.”

Nevertheless, analysts have told AFP that China is not aiming to escalate the situation beyond its control — at least for now.

Titus Chen, an associate professor of political science at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, said: “The last thing Xi wants is an accidental war.”

AFP

US Plans To Supply Ukraine Missiles


STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

The United States is planning to send Ukraine sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to defend against Russian attacks, a source familiar with the process told AFP on Monday.

President Joe Biden “has made the procurement of advanced air defence systems for Ukraine a priority”, the source said, asking not to be identified.

An announcement is “likely this week” on the purchase of an “advanced medium- to long-range surface-to-air missile defence system”, as well as other weaponry to help Ukraine fight Russia’s invasion.

North Korea Fire Railway-Borne Missiles In Third Test This Year

This picture taken on January 14, 2022, and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 15 shows a firing drill of a railway-borne missile regiment is held in North Pyongan Province. STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

 

North Korea fired two railway-borne tactical guided missiles, state media reported Saturday, the country’s third weapons test this month despite a volley of new United States sanctions.

South Korea’s military said it had detected the launch of two short-range ballistic missiles Friday afternoon, just hours after Pyongyang accused the United States of “provocation” over fresh sanctions.

The tests were held to “check and judge the proficiency in the action procedures of the railway-borne regiment,” Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency said.

North Korea test fired missiles from a train for the first time in September 2021.

Friday’s launch “demonstrated high manoeuvrability and rate of hits,” KCNA said.

READ ALSO: Brazil Begins Vaccinating Children Despite President’s Objection

“Issues were discussed to set up proper railway-borne missile operating system across the country,” the report added.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday’s launches flew a distance of 430 kilometres (270 miles) at an altitude of 36 kilometres.

It was Pyongyang’s third weapons test this month, following what it called two successful tests of hypersonic missiles on January 5 and January 11.

In response, the United States imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang this week, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying North Korea was likely “trying to get attention” with the string of missile launches.

Dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang remains stalled, and impoverished North Korea is also under a rigid self-imposed coronavirus blockade that has hammered its economy.

At a key meeting of North Korea’s ruling party last month, leader Kim Jong Un vowed to continue building up the country’s defence capabilities.

In response to the newly imposed sanctions, Pyongyang accused Washington of “intentionally escalating” the situation, saying it had a “legitimate right” to self-defence, a foreign ministry spokesman told state media.

Planes Brought Down By Missiles Since 1973

Rescue teams work amidst debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. AFP

 

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had “suspicions” about the cause of the Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 747 crash outside Tehran on Wednesday.

Britain and Canada meanwhile said they had received information suggesting the doomed airliner with 176 passengers and crew on board was hit by an Iranian missile.

Here is a recap of other planes hit by missiles over the past four decades.

298 killed, Ukraine

July 17, 2014: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

All 298 people aboard the Boeing 777 are killed, including 193 Dutch nationals.

The Kiev authorities and separatist pro-Russian rebels, who are battling for control of eastern Ukraine, accuse each other of firing the missile that downed the flight.

11 killed, Somalia

March 23, 2007: An Ilyushin II-76 cargo aircraft belonging to a Belarusian airline is shot down by a rocket shortly after takeoff from the Somalian capital Mogadishu, killing 11 people. The plane was transporting Belarusian engineers and technicians who had travelled to the country to repair another plane hit by a missile two weeks earlier.

78 killed, Black Sea

October 4, 2001: 78 people, mostly Israelis, were killed when their Russian Sibir Tupolev-154, flying from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk, exploded in mid-flight over the Black Sea. The crash happened less than 300 kilometres (186 miles) from the Crimean coast. A week later Kiev admitted that the disaster was due to the accidental firing of a Ukrainian missile.

290 killed, Persian Gulf

July 3, 1988: An Airbus A-300 belonging to Iran Air, flying from Bandar Abbas in Iran to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, was shot down in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf shortly after take-off by two missiles fired from a US frigate patrolling the Strait of Hormuz, apparently mistaking it for a fighter aircraft. The 290 passengers on board were killed. The United States paid Iran $101.8 million in compensation.

269 killed, Sakhalin

September 1, 1983: A South Korean Boeing 747 of Korean Air was shot down by Soviet fighter jets over the island of Sakhalin, after veering off course. Some 269 passengers and crew members were killed. Soviet officials acknowledged five days later that they had shot down the South Korean plane.

– 108 killed, Sinai Dessert –
February 21, 1973: A Libyan Arab Airline Boeing 727 flying from Tripoli to Cairo was shot down by Israeli fighter jets over the Sinai dessert. All but four of the 112 people on board were killed. The Israeli air force intervened after the Boeing flew over military facilities in the Sinai, then occupied by Israel. The Israeli authorities said fighters opened fire when the plane refused to land.

 

US To Accelerate Missile Program After INF Treaty Exit

 

The United States is to accelerate its development of new cruise and ballistic missile systems following its withdrawal from a nuclear treaty with Russia, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Accusing Russia of “sustained and repeated violations” of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the US had already begun work to develop “mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems.”

As the United States had “scrupulously complied” with its obligations to the 1987 treaty until its formal withdrawal, “these programs are in the early stages,” Esper said in a statement.

“Now that we have withdrawn, the Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions.

“The Department of Defense will work closely with our allies as we move forward in implementing the National Defense Strategy, protecting our national defense and building partner capacity,” he added.

Moscow has said that Washington is making a “serious mistake” pulling out of the treaty, insisting that the US had abandoned the agreement for its own gain rather than because of alleged Russian violations.

AFP

US Sends Missiles, Warship To The Gulf As Tension Rises With Iran

In this file photo taken on February 05, 2013 US soldiers work on a Patriot missile system at a Turkish military base in Gaziantep. PHOTO: Bulent KILIC / AFP

 

The United States is deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to bolster an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers already sent to the Gulf, ratcheting up pressure Saturday on archfoe Iran.

In response to alleged threats from Iran, the USS Arlington, which transports marines, amphibious vehicles, conventional landing craft and rotary aircraft, and the Patriot air defence system will join the Abraham Lincoln carrier group, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The carrier and a B-52 bomber task force were ordered towards the Gulf, as Washington reiterated that intelligence reports suggested Iran was planning some sort of attack in the region.

CENTCOM, the US forces for the Middle East and Afghanistan, said Friday on Twitter that the B-52 bombers arrived at the area of operations on May 8, without saying where they had landed.

US President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton has said the deployment aimed to send a “clear and unmistakable” message to Iran about any attack against the US or its partners in the region.

Washington has not elaborated on the alleged threat, drawing criticism that it is overreacting and unnecessarily driving up tensions in the region.

There was no immediate reaction from Tehran on the latest US moves, but earlier in the week it shrugged off the carrier deployment.

“Bolton’s statement is a clumsy use of an out-of-date event for psychological warfare,” Iran’s Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keyvan Khosravi said.

The increasing tensions come as Tehran said Wednesday it had stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed under a 2015 deal with major powers.

Iran said it was responding to the sweeping unilateral sanctions that Washington has re-imposed since it quit the agreement one year ago, which have dealt a severe blow to the Iranian economy.

US ‘not seeking war’

The Pentagon, for its part, said the deployments were “in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests”.

“The Department of Defence continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies,” it said.

“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region.”

Amid the rising tensions, Trump said Thursday he was open to talks with Tehran’s leadership.

“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We don’t want them to have nuclear weapons — not much to ask,” he said.

In the latest of a series of escalating statements, however, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the same day threatened a “swift and decisive” US response to any attack by Iran.

“Our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve,” he said, adding, however: “We do not seek war.”

In May last year, Trump pulled the United States out of an agreement aimed at curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and reinstated unilateral economic sanctions.

On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would no longer implement parts of the deal and threatened to go further if the remaining members of the pact, including the European Union, failed to deliver sanctions relief to counterbalance Trump’s renewed assault on the Iranian economy within 60 days.

AFP

North Korea Hiding Missile Bases, US Researchers Say

 

North Korea is operating at least 13 undeclared bases to hide mobile, nuclear-capable missiles, a new study released Monday has found, raising fresh doubts over US President Donald Trump’s signature foreign policy initiative.

Trump has hailed his July summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as having opened the way to denuclearization of the divided peninsula, defusing tensions that less than a year ago brought the two countries to the brink of conflict.

Since the summit in Singapore, North Korea has halted nuclear and missile tests dismantled a missile test site and promised to also break up the country’s main nuclear complex.

But researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said they have located 13 missile operating bases that have not been declared by the government, and that there may be as many as 20.

“It’s not like these bases have been frozen,” Victor Cha, who leads CSIS’s North Korea program, told The New York Times, which first reported on the study.

“Work is continuing. What everybody is worried about is that Trump is going to accept a bad deal — they give us a single test site and dismantle a few other things, and in return, they get a peace agreement.”

Cha had been in line for appointment as US ambassador but was dropped because of disagreement with the Trump administration’s approach.

While US sanctions on North Korea remain in place, enforcement by traditional trading partners China and Russia has relaxed since the summit, US officials have acknowledged.

The bases, which are scattered across the country, are located in underground facilities tunnelled in narrow mountain valleys, according to the researchers.

They are designed so that mobile missile launchers can quickly exit the underground facilities and move to previously prepared launch sites.

The bases are arranged in three belts across North Korea, according to the report, with those for strategic missiles deep inside the country.

Medium-range missiles capable of striking Japan and all of South Korea reportedly are deployed in an operational belt 55 to 100 miles (90 to 150 kilometres) north of the demilitarized zone.

Shorter range missiles fit into a tactical belt 30 to 55 miles from the DMZ.

The report included a detailed profile of one such tactical missile operating base, illustrated with commercial satellite imagery, that is just 84 miles northwest of Seoul.

Led by Joseph Bermudez, an authority of North Korea, the researchers’ findings were based on satellite imagery, defector interviews and interviews with intelligence and government officials.

AFP 

US Sanctions China’s Military For Buying Russian Jets, Missiles

FILE Photo of Chinese military troop

 

The United States expanded its sanctions war against Russia to China on Thursday, announcing punitive measures against a Chinese military organization for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles. 

Stepping up pressure on Moscow over its “malign activities,” the US State Department said it was placing financial sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Ministry of Defense, and its top administrator, for its recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

Officials said it was the first time a third country has been punished under the CAATSA sanctions legislation for dealing with Russia, and signaled the Trump administration’s will to risk relations with other countries in its campaign against Moscow.

They also said that the US could consider similar action against other countries taking delivery of Russian fighter jets and missiles. US ally Turkey is currently talking with Moscow about an S400 deal.

“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia,” a senior administration official told journalists, insisting on anonymity.

“CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defense capabilities of any particular country. They are aimed at imposing costs on Russia in response to its malign activities.”

CAATSA, or the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, was passed in 2017 as a tool that gives the Trump administration more ways to target Russia, Iran and North Korea with economic and political sanctions.

With regard to Russia, CAATSA arises from the country’s “aggression in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, cyber intrusions and attacks, interference in the 2016 elections, and other malign activities,” the State Department said.

The legislation allows the government to take action against those companies and individuals who have been placed on the CAATSA blacklist.

EDD and its director Li Shangfu became targets after taking delivery over the past year of the jets and missiles from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms export entity already on the CAATSA blacklist for its support of the Assad regime in Syria.

 Targeting Russian ‘big ticket’ arms deals

At the same time, the State Department also announced it was placing 33 Russian intelligence and military-linked actors on its sanctions blacklist under the CAATSA rules.

All of them — defense-related firms, officers of the GRU military intelligence agency, and people associated with the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency disinformation group — have been on previous US sanctions lists and 28 of them have already been indicted by Russia election meddling investigator Robert Mueller.

“We will continue to vigorously implement CAATSA and urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide,” the State Department said.

The sanctions freeze any of EDD’s and Li’s assets in US jurisdictions.

They also restrict EDD’s access to global financial markets by blocking foreign exchange transactions under US jurisdiction or any transactions in the US financial system.

The senior official stressed that CAATSA is not going to be implemented across the board, but that the US was choosing Russia’s sale of “bigger ticket items” of “new, fancy, qualitatively significant stuff” that could have a “security impact” on the United States.

“The CAATSA was not intended to take down the economy of third-party countries. It’s intended to impose appropriate pressures on Russia in response to Russian malign acts,” the official said.

The official declined to answer if the US would take similar action if Russia delivers S400 missiles to other countries such as Turkey, which is in talks to buy them.

However, he said, “You can be confident that we have spent an enormous amount of time talking about prospective purchases of things such as S-400s and Sukhois with people all around the world who may have been interested in such things and some who may still be.”

“We have made it very clear to them that these –- that systems like the S-400 are a system of key concern with potential CAATSA implications.”

AFP

Israeli Missiles Strike Near Damascus Airport

FILE PHOTO

 

Two Israeli missiles struck targets near Damascus airport early Tuesday, Syrian state media said, while a monitoring group said they hit arms depots for Hezbollah.

In a report in the early hours of Tuesday, Syria’s state news agency Sana said “two Israeli missiles came down near Damascus international airport”.

The head of monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, also told AFP that “the Israeli missiles hit arms depots for Hezbollah near the airport”.

He said the air strike took place at 1:00 am local time “without causing huge explosions” even though they hit the weapons stores.

The observatory added that the Syrian air defence “failed to intercept the missiles”.

When contacted by AFP, a spokesman for the Israeli army said: “We do not comment on foreign reports.”

Israel has warned of a growing Iranian military presence in neighbouring Syria, which it sees as a threat to its safety.

Its military has been carrying out strikes on Iranian and Iran-affiliated targets in Syria, with a US official saying it was Israeli forces that carried out a deadly strike against an Iraqi paramilitary base in eastern Syria on June 17.

Israeli seized a large swathe of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move never recognised by the international community.

AFP

Israeli Strikes Used 28 Planes, Fired 70 Missiles – Russia

FILE PHOTO                                                                                                                        Rami al SAYED / AFP

 

Israel’s strikes on Syria saw 28 planes take part in raids with a total of around 70 missiles fired, Russia’s defence ministry said on Thursday.

“28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the attack, which released around 60 air-to-ground missiles over various parts of Syria. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles,” the ministry said in a statement, quoted by Interfax news agency.

Russia said Syria’s air defence systems shot down more than half of the missiles, while the extent of the damage was still being assessed.

“The locations of Iranian armed groups and also the positions of the Syrian army’s air defences in the area around Damascus and in the south of Syria were attacked,” the ministry said.

Israel carried out the raids after it said around 20 rockets were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights overnight.

It blamed the rocket fire on Iran’s Al-Quds force, adding that Israel’s anti-missile system intercepted four of the projectiles while the rest did not land in its territory.

On Thursday Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov called for “restraint on all sides”, adding that Moscow was “concerned” at the development.

The strikes came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has provided massive military and diplomatic backing to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s seven-year civil war.

At the meeting Putin also expressed “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a key 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, a decision Netanyahu supported.

On Wednesday the Russian leader called the situation in the Middle East “unfortunately very acute”.

Netanyahu had told Putin that “it is the right of every state, certainly the right of Israel, to take the necessary steps in order to protect itself from (Iranian) aggression)”, his office said in a statement Wednesday, referring to Iran’s presence in Syria.

AFP

U.S. Evidence On Yemen Missiles Is ‘Fabricated’, Says Iran

(File Photo) Missiles

Iran on Thursday dismissed evidence presented by US Ambassador Nikki Haley that it had supplied Yemen’s rebels with a missile fired at Saudi Arabia as “fabricated,” saying the accusations were baseless.

“This purportedly evidence, put on public display today, is as much fabricated as the one presented on some other occasions earlier,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman at Iran’s mission to the United Nations.

Haley told a news conference in Washington that a missile fired on November 4 by the Huthi rebels that was intercepted near Riyadh airport was Iranian-made.

“It was made in Iran then sent to Huthi militants in Yemen,” Haley said.

“From there it was fired at a civilian airport with the potential to kill hundreds of innocent civilians in Saudi Arabia.”

Iran “categorically” rejects the accusation “as unfounded and, at the same time, irresponsible, provocative and destructive,” Miryousefi said in a statement.

“The US government has an agenda and is constantly at work to deceive the public into believing the cases they put together to advance it,” he added.

The Iranian mission said the accusations leveled by Haley were intended to divert attention from the devastating war in Yemen being led by Saudi Arabia, a key US ally.

“These hyperboles” serve the US agenda in the Middle East including the administration’s “unbridled support for the Israeli regime,” said the spokesman.

A confidential report to the council this month said UN officials had examined debris from missiles fired at Saudi Arabia which pointed to a “common origin” but there was no firm conclusion on whether they came from an Iranian supplier.

The report from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which was obtained by AFP, said the officials were still analyzing the information.

A separate team of UN experts who inspected the missile fragments during a visit to Riyadh last month found a possible link to an Iranian manufacturer, the Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group, which is on the UN sanctions blacklist.

READ ALSO: Huthi Missile Fired At Saudi Was ‘Made In Iran’ – Haley 

The experts, who report to the sanctions committee, found a component marked by a logo similar to that of the banned group, which is a subsidiary of the Iranian Aerospace Industries Organization.

Haley has called on the UN Security Council to take a tougher stance toward Iran, accusing Tehran of making illegal arms deals in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels in Yemen imposed a blockade of Yemen’s air and sea ports and borders after the missile was fired at Riyadh, citing concerns that weapons were being smuggled into Yemen.

AFP

Who Are The Members Of The Nuclear Arms Club?

 Photo: South Korean Defence Ministry / AFP

Around 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons are held by the United States and Russia, with the remainder in the hands of another seven countries including the latest entrant to the club, North Korea.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said Wednesday that his reclusive country had completed its “state nuclear force” with the test of a long-range missile able to deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States.

Out of an estimated 15,000 weapons around the world, around 4,000 are currently deployed and ready to be used, according to figures from the Federation of American Scientists.

The United States is the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons, on August 6 and 9, 1945, on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where some 140,000 and 70,000 people died respectively.

Since 1970, when the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) entered into force, five declared nuclear powers — the US, Russia, France, Britain and China — agreed not to sell or transfer their weapons technology to other countries.

Other signatories of the treaty — there are 191 in total — also agreed not to pursue a nuclear weapons programme.

Some countries abandoned their nuclear ambitions at around the time of the treaty, including Sweden (1968) and Switzerland (1969), while others have since dropped their programmes such as South Africa (1991) and ex-Soviet republics.

– ‘Illicit trade’ –

Despite the NPT, four other countries managed to develop their own nuclear capability: India, Pakistan and Israel, which never signed the treaty, and most recently North Korea, which pulled out of the treaty in 2003.

A number of scientists are suspected of taking part in the illicit trade of nuclear secrets including Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered the father of Pakistan’s bomb who admitted to being in contact with Iran, Libya and North Korea in 2004.

Iran was suspected of trying to develop its own nuclear weapons capability over the last two decades, which top world powers feared would lead to an atomic arms race in the Middle East.

In 2015, Tehran signed a deal agreeing to inspections and promising that it would use nuclear technology only for energy or other civilian purposes in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

US President Donald Trump is set to decide by October 15 whether to stick with the deal, which his Western allies insist is the only way of containing the threat. He once called it “the worst deal ever”.

AFP