International Current Affairs 2018
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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.
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’s first home-grown amphibious aircraft AG600 (code-named Kunlong) successfully carried out its first take-off and landing on water. It is claimed to be as the world’s largest amphibious aircraft. In this maiden flight, the seaplane took off from Zhanghe Reservoir in Jingmen, Hubei’s province and stayed airborne for about 15 minutes
AG600 amphibious aircraft
AG600 is third member of China’s large aircraft family following large freighter Y-20 and large passenger aircraft C919. It has been developed and built by state-owned aircraft giant Aviation Industry Corporation of China. It had made its maiden flight at the coastal city at Zhuhai in December 2017.
AG600 can land and take off from water. It has wingspan of 38.8 metres. It is powered by four turboprop engines. It has been designed and built by China’s state-owned manufacturer Aviation Industry Corp of China. It is capable of carrying 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours.
It has operational range of 4,500-km. This aircraft has military applications and also can be used for firefighting and marine rescue. Its flight capabilities put all of China’s artificial island-building projects in disputed South China Sea (SCS) well within its range