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Edouard Philippe appointed as Prime Minister of France

French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed Edouard Philippe as the new prime minister of France. At 46, Edouard Philippe would be the second-youngest Prime Minister of France after Laurent Fabius (1984 to 1986), who was 37 at the time of appointment. Philippe is the Mayor of the port city Le Havre since 2010 and is a member of the Les Républicains party .

Edouard Philippe appointment as the new Prime Minister comes at the backdrop of Emmanuel Macron’s plans to draw support from the conservative opposition and appeal to rightwing voters in elections for the National Assembly to be held next month. Although, Emmanuel Macron has won with 66% of the vote, his party En Marche!, which was founded only last year has never held a single National Assembly seat. Macron needs to have a majority in the National Assembly to have the mandate to push his legislative agenda through.

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US to Sell high-tech chemical protective clothing to India

The United States will be selling high-tech Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) protective clothing worth $75 million to India. For the first time, the Pentagon has notified the sale of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) Support Equipment, the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) protective clothing, to the US Congress.  The entire package includes 38,034 M50 general purpose masks, 38,034 units of suits, trousers, gloves,  boots and NBC bags; 854 aprons; 854 alternative aprons; 9,509 Quick Doff Hoods; and 114,102 M61 filters.

Significance

JSLIST protective clothing when used with the chemical protective mask would shield the Indian Soldiers from exposure to any kind of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare that can result in a serious injury. The protective clothing  includes the suit, boots and gloves, pairs of trousers and NBC bags and can be worn for up to 24 hours in contaminated areas.

Background

The India-US defence partnership is among the fastest growing in the world. In the past few years, the US has signed more than $10 billion in defence sales to India. This also the first major foreign defence sale approved by the Trump administration. 

Obama administration had designated India as a major defence partner, which places India at par with other major allies of the US in terms of defence trade and sharing of technologies. In June 2015, India and the US had renewed this Defence Framework Agreement for the next 10 years. The Defence framework paves way for high level strategic discussions, continued exchanges between armed forces of both countries, and strengthening capabilities. 

India’s formal cooperation with US in the area of defence also includes bilateral engagement on defence through the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and the India-US Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E) Agreement. While the DTTI facilitates cooperation in defence research and development, the RDT&E Agreement facilitates co-production and co-development of projects like sharing and design of aircraft carrier technology and explore possible cooperation on development of jet engine technology.

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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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