Current Affairs 2017 – May

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Fact Box: North Korea’s Missile Development Programme

Defying calls to halt its weapons programme, North Korea has yet again test fired a ballistic missile that flew for 30 minutes before dropping into the sea between North Korea’s east coast and Japan, only 97 km from south of Russia’s Vladivostok region. The missile has invited calls for implementation of stronger sanctions against North Korea. The missile flew 700 km and reached an altitude of more than 2,000 km before landing into the sea. The missile is considered to have a range higher than an intermediate-range missile that North Korea successfully tested in February this year. An intercontinental ballistic missile has a range of more than 6,000 km. 

Chronology of North Korea’s Missile Development Programme

Late 1970s: North Korea begins working on a version of the Soviet Scud-B having a range of 300 km. The missile was test fired in 1984.

1999: In order to improve its ties with US, North Korea declares moratorium on long-range missile tests.

2000: Fifth round of US-North Korean missile talks ended without reaching any significant agreement as US rejects North Korea’s demand of being paid $1 billion a year in return for halting missile exports.

2005: North Korea ends moratorium on long-range missile tests.

2006: North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test

2009: North Korea conducted its second underground nuclear test.

2012: North Korea successfully placed an Earth observational satellite in orbit.

2013: North Korea Conducted its third underground nuclear test

January 2016: North conducted its fourth underground nuclear test. It claimed that test involved a hydrogen bomb, a claim which is doubted by many experts.

March 2016: North Korea claimed that it has successfully miniaturised a thermo-nuclear warhead.

April 2016: North Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile

September 2016: North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test

October 2016: North Korea test fired an intermediate-range Musudan missile which is theoretically capable of reaching US bases on Guam. The test was considered as a failure after the missile exploded shortly after its launch.

March  2017: North Korea tested a new rocket engine

April 2017: North Korea fires a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan which was an extended-range Scud missile. It also staged few more failed missile tests in April.

May 2, 2017: THAAD anti-missile system becomes operational in South Korea

May 14, 2017: North test fired a ballistic missile. The missile flew 700 km and reached an altitude of more than 2,000 km dropping into the sea between North Korea’s east coast and Japan.

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Arjun Maini becomes First Indian to Win a GP3 Race

The 19-year-old Motorsports’ Indian driver Arjun Maini, who drives for Jenzer Motorsport, has become the first Indian to win a GP3 Series (a feeder series to GP2) race at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Arjun Maini is supported by JK Racing and TVS. This victory has moved Arjun Maini into third place in the driver’s championship standings after completion of the first round of the eight-round GP3 series. He has 23 points. Nirei Fukuzumi of Japan leads the championship standings with 29 points, followed by Alessio Lorandi of Italy with 25 points.

This is the third instance that the Indian National Anthem was played during an F1 weekend with the first two played after Karun Chandhok’s two wins in GP2.

GP3 rounds are held as support events during F1 Grand Prixs. GP3 is a single seater motor racing series which was launched in 2010 as a feeder series for the GP2 Series.

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India to Skip OBOR summit in China

India will skip the two day grand OBOR summit organised by China to showcase its plans to build a network of trade routes under the One Belt, One Road (OBOR). OBOR is an ambitious China’s ambitious development strategy and framework that aims to boost its connectivity and trade that will that will connect Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

The summit is expected to be attended by nearly 65 countries. However, only 20 heads of state is expected to attend the summit. The US and Japan who were initially reluctant to attend the summit have decided to send a representative at the last minute. India, however, has refused to send any representative owing to sovereignty concerns related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  

The countries like Russia, South Korea, France, Germany and UK will send either ministerial or official delegations to the summit. As far as india’s neighbours are concerned, Pakistan is sending the largest delegation consisting of four chief ministers and five federal ministers. Others like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives will also have official representations. Bhutan will not participate as it has no diplomatic relations with China.  

India’s Concerns

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is a 3000 km project connecting Pakistan’s deep-water port Gwadar and China’s Xinjiang falls under the OBOR initiative of China. The CPEC passes through Gilgit-Baltistan region of the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. The Chinese presence in the disputed region has raised sovereignty concerns for India. The Gwadar Port offers China to have its naval presence in the Arabian Sea and to the Indian Ocean. Already, China has plans to station its marines in Djibouti in Horn of Africa in Indian Ocean. The other projects under the OBOR in South and South East Asia also have security implications for India.
Unlike India, none of the other countries have sovereignty related issues with OBOR initiative.

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