Iran nuclear deal : Timeline

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Iran nuclear deal

  • It is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • It was signed between Iran and the P5, plus Germany and the EU in 2015. P5 is the 5 permanent members of the UNSC (US, China, France, Russia, and UK).
  • The deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear programme.
  • Under the deal most of Iran’s enriched uranium was shipped out of the country.
  • A heavy water facility was rendered inoperable
  • Operational nuclear facilities were brought under international inspection
  • In return, the deal involved lifting of international sanctions on Iran.

What happened after the deal?

  • October 2015: Iran conducts its first ballistic missile test since the nuclear deal. The US accuses Iran of violating a UN Security Council resolution, but former President Barack Obama acknowledges that ballistic missiles are “entirely separate” from the nuclear deal.
  • Jan 2016: The IAEA acknowledges Iran has met its commitments under the nuclear deal, which sees most sanctions on Iran lifted. It takes time but Iran re-enters the global banking system and begins selling crude oil and natural gas on the international market. Next day, the US imposes sanctions over Iran’s ballistic missile tests.
  • October 2018: Trump announces he will not re-certify the Iran nuclear deal as required, criticizing the accord by saying it “threw Iran’s dictatorship a political and economic lifeline”.

What are US’s present concerns?

  • Trump administration says the deal did not target Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
  • It does not focus on Iran’s nuclear activities beyond 2025.
  • It also leaves Iran’s role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

India-Japan : Free and Open Indo-Pacific

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Free and Open Indo-Pacific:

  • India and Japan outlined a vision for strengthened bilateral relations at the 13th annual summit.
  • Japan’s formulation of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” received a central place in the vision statement issued at the end of the talks, with both sides stressing their “unwavering commitment to it.”
  • The concept is usually seen as a response to China’s growing dominance in the region.

Recent developments Indo-Pacific region

  • Bangladesh has already chosen Japan’s Martabali port project instead of China’s Sonadia port project. If the Trincomalee port project – involving Japanese assistance – in Sri Lanka succeeds, then the importance of China’s Hambantota port will decline.
  • Similarly, the Chabahar port project in Iran can mitigate the importance of the Chinese Gwadar port in Pakistan.
  • The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), a result of Indo-Japanese cooperation, will also counter China’s growing influence in Africa.
  • India has secured access to Duqm port in Oman for military use and develop the Agalega Island in Mauritius.
  • The Indian Navy has secured a logistics facility in Singapore that will allow it to refuel and rearm and has similar facilities in Vietnam.
  • India’s recent logistics agreement with France, just like the one with the US, allows it to access France’s military bases across the Indo-Pacific.
  • India and Indonesia are considering the development of a port at Sabang close to the Malacca Strait after the Indonesian minister for maritime affairs offered the port to India for military use. China was quick to warn India against militarization of the port.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are strategically important. These islands are near the Malacca Straits, providing an excellent location for tracking China’s submarine activities. India is modernizing infrastructure to deploy more and larger warships and planes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • In addition, Japanese investment in India’s strategic road project in the latter’s North-East region will help increase India-South-East Asia trade. There is a possibility that growing India-South-East Asia trade could reduce China’s influence in South-East Asia.
  • India has been conducting a number of bilateral and multilateral military exercises. The Malabar naval exercises with the US and Japan are the largest and the most complex series of naval exercises that India engages in, developing interoperability with two of the most powerful navies in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Quad, while not being given a military dimension yet, will be the most important grouping in the Indo-Pacific. It will have to set an economic programme to help smaller countries of the region.

China’s Arunachal Pradesh claim

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  • In 1951, China became India‘s neighbour not owing to geography but by annexing Tibet. In recent years China has created conflict zone across the Himalayas especially in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Arunachal Pradesh is internationally recognized as a state belongs to India. It is influenced by Tibetan, Burmese and Bhutanese culture.
  • China lays its claim on Arunachal Pradesh (AP) on the basis of its cultural similarity with Tibet. It has gone to the extent of citing of birth of 6th Dalai Lama in Tawang District (AP) in 17th century. The irony is that China openly covets AP as a cultural extension to Tibet, thus is a part of China.
  • China‘s claim on Arunachal Pradesh can‘t be driven by insecurity of India‘s rise in Asia rather it can be treated as a classic attempt of incremental annexation.
  • Since 2000, China has been claiming AP (earlier only Tawang) in its entirety and is motivated by its desire to put a stop on Tibetan nationalism which it believes is fueled by support from India.
  • Arunachal Pradesh is also strategically located at the confluence of the international borders of India, China, Myanmar and Bhutan.
  • This extension of territorial claims and increasing aggressions in Arunachal Pradesh, East and South- China sea Islands, indicates a concerted strategy of widening of China‘s sphere of influence and control.

Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

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What is Non-Alignment?

  • The phrase “non-aligned” was first used by V K Krishna Menon at the United Nations General Assembly in 1953 and by Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1956
  • But as early as in late 1940s, Nehru had spelt out the strategy behind the phrase, first in Constituent Assembly debates and later in Parliament
  • The core idea was that, the very sense of India, with its history and civilisation attributes, demands the pursuit of an independent foreign policy. Decisions relating to India’s vital interests should not be externally determined. Maintaining and, if possible, expanding the country’s strategic autonomy is a continuing objective
  • Nehru once said that “We should either be strong enough to produce some effect or we should not interfere at all“, which demonstrates a realistic awareness of the limits of India’s ability to influence events
  • The way Jawaharlal Nehru conceived Nonalignment was a strategy and not a doctrine. For Nehru, the non-alignment was a strategy designed to maximise newly independent India’s gains from the world system. Nonalignment did not mean to choose to become a hermit kingdom.

Nehru kept the West open for trade and aid, while on the other, it avoided alienating the two communist powers in India’s immediate neighbourhood, China and the Soviet Union. By adopting a policy to be friendly to all, Nehru hoped to receive critical necessary foreign aid at that time.

  • The Nonalignment 1.0 was just a way of making it clear that India would act in her interests first rather than the interests of Washington, Moscow, or Beijing (Peking)

What were implications of NAM?

Despite of initial rumblings from US congress, India was fairly successful in its policy of non-alignment. India received aid from both blocks and neither took India as a threat. In Nehru Era, India was able to maintain satisfactory relations with US as well as USSR. However, India found herself moving closer and closer to the Soviet Union. The reasons were:

  • United States kept supplying arms to Pakistan despite repeated admonition from India
  • From New Delhi’s perspective, US was an unreliable partner, it was proved in 1960s during financial crisis and food crisis.
  • USSR reassured India regarding the security measures against a potential Chinese attack
  • India and US remained in contravention over the nuclear question
  • India was subject to a nuclear blackmail by US (allegedly) when it deployed its aircraft carrier USS Enterprise during the India – Pakistan War of 1971
  • India did not like the US presence at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean

We can say that India and US relations remained acerbated for the first few decades of India’s impendence and that is why India tilted towards Moscow and signed the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty in August 1971.

End of Non-alignment 1.0:

NAM as a strategy become useless with the end of Cold War when world became Unipolar as USA became undisputed world leader.

Failures of Non-alignment:

The critics of Non-alignment say that the biggest failure of the policy was the India’s failure to deal with China in 1962. It was said that India could move closer to US to counter the abject poverty, grim state of economy and problems in foreign trade. However, these were problems of India as a state and not India as a country with independent foreign policy. The failure was not of non-alignment, but of an economy spiralling out of control (the concurrence with the China war/ pushing of India’s Five Year Plans off schedule) and held policies held to because they had become articles of faith than strategies.

Future of NAM:

NAM should be seen as “Strategic Autonomy” which is much needed in today’s world than in past. However, in today’s context, India needs more engagements with all players as world has become more inter dependent than in the past. Few points to remember are:

  • India’s enhanced economic and security capabilities enable it to influence external events and outcomes in a widening orbit compared to the Cold War years. India enjoys greater leverage but bears greater responsibility in dealing with regional issues such as South Asian and East Asian economic integration and global issues such as climate change and energy security.
  • Furthermore, in a globalises world, external issues impact our economic and social development prospects while domestic choices we make as a country, in turn, have an impact on the external environment. Promotion of India’s interests demands far greater engagement with the world than ever before.
  • Depending on the issue at hand, India will find itself working with shifting and variable coalitions rather than through settled alliances or groupings.
  • The country has inherent assets, such as a favourable demography, a strategic location and a culture of creativity and innovation, which create a window of opportunity to drive India’s emergence as a front-ranking power, a master of its own destiny but generating a range of public goods that make the world a better and safer place to live in.

Indian PM not attending NAM 2016:

  • Only second PM to do so.
  • It can be attributed to shift in India’s foreign policy given its strategic partnership with the US and therefore NAM was not priority on its agenda
  • However, foreign policy was always to attain a set of objectives. It should not be seen as black or white, it is always shades of grey
  • Blocs and alliances are less relevant today and the world is moving towards a loosely arranged order.
  • Our key national interest is to become one of the central pillars of global politics and it seems as if China is the biggest stumbling block. A lot of India’s foreign policy is about managing China today. There are multiple poles emerging in the world and the US is at the centre of them all
  • Problem with NAM has always been that even in a bloc, individual nations have made foreign policy decisions based on national interest and en bloc support has rarely happened

Source:

Annual Summits : 13th India-Japan Summit

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Summit:

  • Held in Japan
  • PM Modi visited Japan
  • The partnership between the two countries has been transformed a lot and it has now become as a ‘special strategic and global partnership’.

 

Highlights

  • Japan investors will invest around $2.5 Billion US dollars in India.
  • The two sides agreed for a 2+2 dialogue between our foreign ministers and defence ministers to further work towards world peace.
  • An India-Japan Business Platform will be established to enhance the development of industrial corridors and industrial network in the region
  • Both countries will cooperate for the first time in the areas of traditional medicinal systems such as Yoga and Ayurveda. This will facilitate a boost in the healthcare in both the countries.
  • Both the countries have agreed to synchronize upon sharing benefits of the Ayushman Bharat scheme and the Japanese healthcare programme.
  • There will be commencement of talks on a military logistics pact, the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement, between the two nations that will ensure the access to each other’s military bases and naval bases.
  • Japan will invest more significantly in the up gradation of infrastructure in the Northeast which will also link India to Southeast Asia.
  • The two countries will work together to extend access to education, health and other amenities to the people of the Indo-Pacific, including Africa.
  • Japan-India Investment Promotion Roadmap enhanced the contribution of Japan in India’s Make in India initiative with establishment of Business Support Centre in Ahmedabad.

US withdrawal from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty

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United States (US) President Donald Trump has announced that US will unilaterally pull out of three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty signed with Russia during Cold War.

 

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty

  • It was crucial Cold War-era treaty banning development, testing and possession of short and medium range ground-launched nuclear missiles with range of 500-5,000 km.
  • The treaty was signed in December 1987 between then US President Ronald Reagan and his USSR counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev.
  • The treaty banned all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 km or (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (intermediate-range).
  • This treaty was central to ending arms race between two superpowers during cold war and protected America’s NATO allies in Europe from Soviet missile attacks.
  • It was designed to provide measure of some strategic stability on continent of Europe.

 

Reasons of US withdrawal

  • US President Trump has alleged that Russia has violated treaty and has been violating it for many years.
  • This violation comes after Russia’s alleged development and deployment of Novator 9M729 missile (also known as SSC-8), that could strike Europe at short notice.
  • Accusations of Russia violating this treaty pre-dates Trump presidency and go back to 2008 during President Obama administration.
  • Under former President Barack Obama raised issue of Russia testing ground-launched cruise missile with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014.
  • But Russia had denied allegations and raised counter-allegations of the US installing missile defence systems in Europe.
  • While two countries failed to find resolution using dispute resolution mechanism in treaty, US continued to remain party to treaty under pressure from its European allies.

 

Implications

  • The unilateral withdrawal from this treaty will allow US new nuclear weapon options in Pacific in its efforts to counter China’s growing influence.
  • There are also concerns that unilateral termination of this treaty could mark beginning of new arms race between US and Russia.

 

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

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  • CPEC is a flagship project as part of China’s multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aimed at enhancing China’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
  • CPEC aims to construct and upgrade transportation network, energy projects, deep-water port at Gwadar and special economic zones (SEZs) to eventually support Pakistan’s industrial development as manufacturing hub by 2030.
  • CPEC will linking Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through vast network of highways and railways.
  • The proposed project is financed by heavily-subsidised Chinese loans, disbursed to Pakistan Government by Chinese banking giants such as China Development Bank, Exim Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
  • Why in news? Pakistan has invited Saudi Arabia to join $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the third strategic partner.

Chinese challenge in Africa

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Facts:

  • China has pledged $60 billion of financial assistance to Africa to bolster industry, counter hunger, and enhance security in the continent.
  • Out of $60 billion offered, China will disburse $15 billion as aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, $20 billion as credit line, channel $10 billion into special fund for China-Africa development and $5 billion special fund will be set up only for African imports.

 

Challenges:

  • China is emerged as Africa’s largest trading partner
  • China’s current hold in trade and investment in Africa is three times India’s

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India-Cyprus Relations

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History:

  • Diplomatic ties between India and Cyprus were established in 1962.
  • Cyprus got the support of India during its struggle for independence from British colonial rule.

 ias4sure.com - India-Cyprus Relations

Investment and Trade:

  • Cyprus is the eighth largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative foreign direct investment of about $9 billion in areas such as financial leasing, stock exchange, auto manufacture, manufacturing industries, real estate, cargo handling, construction, shipping and logistics.
  • The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between both the countries was revised in 2016.
  • Bilateral trade between both the countries stood at EUR 76.5 million in 2015.
  • The major commodities exported by India to Cyprus are organic chemicals, vehicles & accessories and iron & steel. India’s main imports are aluminium and its products, wood pulp, machinery, boilers, engines, and plastic.

 

MoUs:

  • India and Cyprus have signed two agreements on combating money laundering and cooperation in the field of environment

 

Bilateral Visits:

  • Indian President visited Cyprus in September 2018

BIMSTEC : Kathmandu Declaration

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The 4th BIMSTEC Summit concluded in Kathmandu with signing and adoption of Kathmandu Declaration by all the seven members (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand).

 

Kathmandu Declaration

  • 18-point Kathmandu Declaration aims to enhance effectiveness of BIMSTEC Secretariat by engaging it in various technical and economic activities in the region.
  • It acknowledges importance of trade and investment as one of major contributing factors for fostering economic and social development in the region.
  • It also deplored terrorist attacks in all parts of the world, including in BIMSTEC countries, and strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms.
  • It also reiterated strong commitment of BIMSTEC countries to combat terrorism and called upon all countries to devise comprehensive approach in this regard.
  • Member countries also agreed to expedite conclusion of BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and called upon member states for its early ratification.
  • It also expressed satisfaction that many member states have ratified BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
  • BIMSTEC countries also agreed to establish seamless multi-modal transportation linkages and smooth, synchronised and simplified transit facilities through the development, expansion and modernisation of highways, railways, waterways, sea routes and airways in the region.
  • They also decided to speed up efforts to conclude BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and BIMSTEC Motor Vehicle Agreement as early as possible taking into account special circumstances and needs of the member states.
  • BIMSTEC countries also decided for early conclusion of BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations, and directed the BIMSTEC Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting and its subsidiary bodies, including Trade Negotiating Committee, to expedite finalisation of all related agreements of FTA as early as possible.
  • BIMSTEC countries also called for exploring possibility of establishing BIMSTEC Development Fund with voluntary contributions from member states. The fund will be utilised for research and planning of BIMSTEC and financing of projects, and other activities of regional organisation.

 ias4sure.com - BIMSTEC Kathmandu Declaration

Analysis of Summit:

  1. Work begins now on drafting a charter for BIMSTEC.
  2. A Permanent Working Committee will be set up to provide direction during the period between two summits and also to prepare the Rules of Procedure.
  3. The Secretariat has been promised additional financial and human resources and enhancement of its role to coordinate, monitor and facilitate the grouping’s activities.
  4. As the institution has been handicapped due to lack of financial muscle, the leaders took the bold decision to establish the BIMSTEC Development Fund.
  5. A push to increase its visibility and stature in the international fora will also be made.
  6. Recognising that 16 areas of cooperation represent too wide a spectrum, the BIMSTEC governments will make a serious endeavour to review, restructure and rationalise various sectors, identifying a few core areas.
  7. In this exercise, Thailand has proposed a new strategy of five pillars (viz. connectivity, trade and investment, people-to-people contacts, security, and science and technology). This will be considered, although the difficulty in dropping specific sectors dear to individual member-states should not be minimised.

 

Concerns with respect to BIMSTEC

  • Fourteen years after signing the framework agreement on Free Trade Area (FTA), the leaders could only renew their “commitment to an early conclusion” of FTA negotiations.
  • The Thai Prime Minister bravely urged participants to accept making BIMSTEC a Free Trade Zone by 2021 as “our common goal”, but this did not find a place in the summit declaration.
  • The Myanmar President pointed out that the grouping had established its Energy Centre in 2009, but it was still struggling for the “early operationalisation” of the Centre.

 

Conclusion

  • The summit articulated a vision for the Bay of Bengal Region heading towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future. The region is now widely viewed as a common space for security, connectivity and development.