Russia, China seek UN Security Council meeting on US missile developments

A conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile is launched by the US Department of Defense during a test to inform development of future intermediate-range capabilities at San Nicolas Island, California, on August 18, 2019. (Scott Howe/US Dept of Defense/Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 22 August 2019

Russia, China seek UN Security Council meeting on US missile developments

  • The Pentagon has said it had tested a conventionally configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500 km of flight
  • Russian President Putin said the US was in a position to deploy a new land-based cruise missile in Romania and Poland

UNITED NATIONS: Russia and China have asked the United Nations Security Council to meet on Thursday over “statements by US officials on their plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles,” according to the request seen by Reuters.
Moscow and Beijing want to convene the 15-member council under the agenda item “threats to international peace and security” and have requested that UN disarmament affairs chief Izumi Nakamitsu brief the body.
The Pentagon said on Monday it had tested a conventionally configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500 km (310 miles) of flight, the first such test since the United States pulled out Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked in a Fox News Channel interview on Wednesday whether the test was aimed at sending a message to China, Russia or North Korea and indicated that the main concern was China.
“We want to make sure that we, as we need to, have the capability to deter Chinese bad behavior by having our own capability to be able to strike at intermediate ranges,” he said.
Esper said on a visit to Australia this month he was in favor of placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in Asia relatively soon.
Esper was also asked about a rocket test accident in Russia this month which US officials believe was associated with the Kremlin’s hypersonic cruise missile program.
“Clearly they are trying to expand their strategic nuclear arsenal to deal with the United States,” he said, adding that all such new weapons would have to be included in any future strategic arms reduction treaty.
“Right now Russia has possibly nuclear-tipped ... INF-range cruise missiles facing toward Europe, and that’s not a good thing,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the United States was in a position to deploy a new land-based cruise missile in Romania and Poland, a scenario he considered a threat that Moscow would need to respond to.
The United States has said it has no imminent plans to deploy new land-based missiles in Europe.
This week’s US test would have been banned under the INF, which prohibited land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles, reducing the ability of the United States and Russia to launch a nuclear strike at short notice. China was not a party to the INF treaty and has a large arsenal of land-based intermediate-range missiles.
Washington formally withdrew from the landmark 1987 pact with Russia on Aug. 2 after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that the US test showed the United States was stoking a new arms race and confrontation, which would have a serious negative impact on regional and global security.
A North Korean spokesman said on Thursday the US test and plans to deploy F-35 jets and offensive military equipment around the Korean peninsula were “dangerous” moves that would “trigger a new Cold War” in the region.
Asked whether he thought it was appropriate for Washington to continue to seek negotiations with Pyongyang after its repeated recent tests of short-range missiles, Esper said the biggest US concern was about North Korea’s long-range missiles, tests of which it has frozen since 2017.
“I think you need to take a look at the bigger picture,” he said when asked if recent US statements playing down the short-range tests amounted to giving North Korea permission to conduct them.


India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law

Updated 2 min 14 sec ago

India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law

  • Farooq Abdullah, 81, who also was the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested at his residence in Srinagar
  • ‘We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be’
NEW DELHI: A Parliament member who is a senior pro-India politician in Indian-controlled Kashmir was arrested Monday under a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial.
Farooq Abdullah, 81, who also was the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested at his residence in Srinagar, the summer capital and main city of the disputed Himalayan region.
“We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be,” said Muneer Khan, a top police official.
Abdullah is the first pro-India politician who has been arrested under the Public Safety Act, under which rights activists say more than 20,000 Kashmiris have been detained in the last two decades.
Amnesty International has called the PSA a “lawless law,” and rights groups say India has used the law to stifle dissent and circumvent the criminal justice system, undermining accountability, transparency, and respect for human rights.
The PSA came into effect in 1978, under the government of Abdullah’s father, who himself was a highly popular Kashmir leader.
The law, in its early days, was supposedly meant to target timber smugglers in Kashmir. After an armed rebellion started in the region in 1989, the law was used against rebels and anti-India protesters.
Abdullah’s residence was declared a subsidiary jail and he was put under house arrest on Aug. 5 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government in New Delhi stripped Jammu and Kashmir of semi-autonomy and statehood, creating two federal territories.
Thousands of additional Indian troops were sent to the Kashmir Valley, already one of the world’s most militarized regions. Telephone communications, cellphone coverage, broadband Internet and cable TV services were cut for the valley’s 7 million people, although some communications have been gradually restored.
On Aug. 6, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah denied to the lower house of Parliament that Abdullah had been detained or arrested.
“If he (Abdullah) does not want to come out of his house, he cannot be brought out at gunpoint,” Shah said, when other parliamentarians expressed concern over Abdullah’s absence during the debate on Kashmir’s status.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court sought a response from the central government and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea seeking to produce Abdullah before the court.
Many anti-India protesters as well as pro-India Kashmiri leaders have been held in jails and other makeshift facilities to contain protests against India’s decisions, according to police officials.
Kashmir’s special status was instituted shortly after India achieved independence from Britain in 1947. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety, but each control only part of it.
India has often tried to suppress uprisings in the region, including a bloody armed rebellion in 1989. About 70,000 people have been killed since that uprising and a subsequent Indian military crackdown.