Insights Current Affairs - 2019

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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.

Fact Box: Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS II)

Science Express

The Science Express is 16 coach AC mobile train science exhibition of Department of Science & Technology (DST). The objective of the Express is to arouse interest of the young people in the field of science and technology. Since its inception, the programme is being managed by Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC). The Science Express was launched from Delhi Safdarjung Railway station on October 30, 2007. The Express has so far completed 8 phases by travelling 1,41,800 km, with 455 halts, and 1602 exhibition days. Thus, it is has become the largest, longest running and the most visited mobile science exhibition with six entries in the Limca Book of Records. Since its inception, over 1.61 crore people had visited Science Express.

The 8 phases completed by the train includes 4 phases of ‘Science Express’, which had showcased cutting edge research in science and technology being carried worldwide; 3 phases of ‘Biodiversity Special’ (SEBS) which had showcased the rich biodiversity of India; and one phase of ‘Climate Action Special’ (SECAS) that highlighted the global challenge of climate change.


The Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS II) constitutes 9th Phase and will stop at 68 stations for science popularisation across the country till September covering a total distance of 19,000 km. The current ninth phase of the Science Express was flagged off on February 17 this year. The SECAS is a collaborative initiative of DST, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Railways, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC). 

The Broad themes covered by SECAS-II are: Underlying reasons for climate change; impact of climate change and ways to reduce it; adaptation strategies and adaptation measures undertaken by India; mitigation and various programmes implemented; international negotiations for climate change etc.