Anti-missile system will spark new arms race, says Russia

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visits the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, in this June 18, 2016 file photo. (AP)
Updated 28 March 2017
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Anti-missile system will spark new arms race, says Russia

MOSCOW/TOKYO: The Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that the US’ global deployment of an anti-missile system was a threat to world security designed to contain Russia and China, the RIA news agency reported.
It also cited the ministry as warning that the deployment would spark a new arms race.
A day earlier, Russia had criticized the deployment of a US anti-missile system aimed at North Korea, saying it poses “serious risks” to the region.
The US this month began installing the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea in response to the North’s intensifying ballistic missile development.
Allies Washington and Seoul say it is for purely defensive purposes. China fears it could undermine its own nuclear deterrent and has lashed out, imposing measures seen as economic retaliation on South Korea.
Russia, meanwhile, took advantage of diplomatic and defense talks with US ally Japan to criticize the development.
“We drew attention to the serious risks posed by the deployment of elements of the American global anti-missile system in the Asia-Pacific region,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference, saying Moscow raised the issue in the talks.
“If this is meant to counter threats coming from North Korea, then the deployment of this system and accumulating armaments in the region is a disproportionate reply,” he added, apparently referring to THAAD.
Russia last year also expressed worries over plans for the deployment in South Korea.
Lavrov’s comments came after so-called two-plus-two talks between the foreign and defense ministers of Russia and Japan.
They also followed a high-profile visit to the region by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who warned that American military action against the North was an option “on the table.”
North Korea did come in for criticism at the Russia-Japan meeting for its nuclear and missile development.
“We shared the view that we will strongly urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint over further provocative actions and follow UN Security Council resolutions,” said Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
North Korea is banned by the international community from pursuing nuclear and missile programs but has defiantly plowed ahead.
It staged its two latest nuclear tests last year and recently fired off missiles which it described as practice for an attack on US bases in Japan.
Japan and Russia also tried to further bridge differences over a long-standing territorial dispute dating from World War II but achieved no major breakthroughs.
The Soviet Union seized four islands off Japan’s northern coast in 1945 in the closing days of the war and the dispute has prevented a peace treaty to formally end the conflict.
The foreign and defense ministers’ meeting, the first since late 2013, followed a December summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin that focused on the territorial row.
Kishida announced that Abe will visit Russia in late April to continue their discussions on efforts to finally conclude a peace treaty ending the war.


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 14 min 24 sec ago

India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.