Current Affairs – August, 2019

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International Day Against Nuclear Tests observed on August 29

The International Day Against Nuclear Tests is observed across every year across the world on 29 August with aim to raise awareness about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions.

Purpose of this day: (i) To promote peace and security world-wide and calls for urgent need to prevent nuclear catastrophes to avert devastating effects on humankind, environment and the planet. (ii) To highlight urgent need for cessation of nuclear weapons as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

About International Day Against Nuclear Tests

It was officially proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by unanimously adopting Resolution 64/35 in December 2009 initiated by Kazakhstan with support of large number of sponsors and cosponsors. It was observed for first time in 2010 and since then observed annually to galvanize necessity of banning nuclear weapon tests.

Why August 29? It seeks to commemorate closure of Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site (also known as The Polygon) on 29 August 1991. This nuclear test site was the primary testing venue for nuclear weapons of then Soviet Union. It is located on steppe in northeast Kazakhstan (then Kazakh SSR part of USSR), south of valley of the Irtysh River. On this test site, Soviet Union had conducted total 456 nuclear tests from 1949 until 1989 (340 underground and 116 atmospheric explosions i.e. roughly equivalent of 2500 Hiroshima atomic bombs) with little regard for their ill-effects of radiation on local people or environment.

Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile Ghaznavi

Pakistan successfully conducted night training launch of hypersonic surface-to-surface ballistic missile Hatf-III Ghaznavi from Sonmiani test range in Balochistan.

About Hatf-III Ghaznavi Missile

It is “Scud” type short range surface-to-surface hypersonic ballistic missile. It is named after 11th century Muslim Turkic conqueror Mahmud of Ghazni. It has been designed and developed by Pakistan’s missile developer- National Development Complex. Its design is believed to be influenced from Chinese design, M-11 (NATO reporting name: CSS-7). It had entered in service with Pakistan Army in 2012.

Features: It has length of 9.64m, diameter of 0.99 m, launch weight of 5256 kg. It is powered by single stage solid fuel rocket motor. It is capable of delivering multiple types of warheads (both nuclear and conventional warheads) upto range of 290 km.

Kashmir Connection with this test

The launch of missile coincides with Pakistan’s scaled-up effort to internationalise the Kashmir issue after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.  It is also seen as part of two-pronged effort to internationalise Kashmir issue at both military and diplomatic levels, and for impact, raise spectre of nuclear war between the two countries.

In protest to India’s decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with India and also had expelled Indian High Commissioner. It also suspended its trade with India and stopped train and bus services. India has categorically notified international community that repealing of temporary provision of Article 370 was internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.

India’s Shaurya missile: DRDO is developing similar missile to Pakistan Hatf-III Ghaznavi Missile for Indian. It is short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, Shaurya. It is capable of carrying different types of warhead (including both nuclear and conventional) weighing around one-tonne at hypersonic speed up to 600km range.

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