India-US Current Affairs - 2020

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India Russia to sign MoUs on AK-203 assault rifles

The Indian Army will sign MoU with Russia to procure AK-203 assault rifles. According to the deal, around 1 lakh rifles are to be received directly from Russia and the rest will be manufactured in India


The rifles will be manufactured at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh by a joint Venture (JV) called Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL). Of the JV, 50.5% is to be owned by India and 49.5% by Russia.

Current Status

Apart from the AK-203 rifles, the Indian army recently received the first batch of 10,000 SIG-716 assault rifles from US. The contract was signed in February 2019. The plan is to provide the high cost SIGs to the front-line troops and the remaining forces will be armed with AK-203 rifles. Currently Indian army is using indigenous INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) rifles and is looking for ways to replace them.


INSAS is a light machine gun that is currently being manufactured at Ordnance Factory Trichy, Ishapore Arsenal and Kanpur. It was adopted in 1990. The rifles were widely used during Kargil war. There were complaints of jamming and cracking of the rifles in high altitudes of Himalayas. Similar complaints were also reported by the Nepalese army during the 2005 Maoists clash.

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External Affairs Minister visits Iran

External Affairs Minister was on a two-day visit to Iran between December 22-23, 2019. During his visit he chaired the 19th Joint Commission Meeting with his Iranian Counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.


The leaders at the Joint Commission Meeting agreed to Strengthen and accelerate Chabahar project. The visit comes after US has provided narrow exemption to India from sanctions. US had earlier imposed sanctions on Iran for its accumulation of nuclear weapons. India has been exempted as the project intends towards development of Afghanistan.

The Minister also met Iranian President. The President expressed satisfaction in operationalization of Shahid Beheshti port as well.

Shahid Beheshti port

Chabahar is the only port of Iran. It consists of two separate ports namely Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. India and Iran agreed to develop Shahid Kalantari port in 2003. However, it was dropped following sanctions on Iran. The project was again taken up in 2016. Under the agreement, India will construct 600-meter-long container handling facility at the port. India has already begun its operation at the port in 2016.

Other Discussions

India and Iran also agreed to celebrate their 70th anniversary of bilateral treaty of friendship in 2020. The countries will promote people-to-people contact, organize cultural festivals, youth exchanges and also exchanges between Parliamentarians


India and Iran signed the “Chabahar Project” in 2017. It is an 85 million USD project that aims to develop Chabahar port in south-eastern Iran. The Chabahar port is an alternate route for trade between India and Afghanistan. The land route through Pakistan from India to Afghanistan is not accessible.

The project is also seen as a counter to Chinese Gwadar port in Pakistan.

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