Russia Current Affairs - 2019
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The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has unveiled a “state-of-the-art” domestically produced submarine capable of firing cruise missiles. The launch has gained significance due to the skewed relations with the USA.
- The launch was held in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas.
- Fateh, which means ‘Conqueror’ in Farsi (Persian language) is Iran’s first submarine in the semi-heavy category.
- It fills a gap between the light Ghadir-class and the heavy Kilo-class submarines that Iran possesses.
- The underwater-vessel weighs nearly 600 tonnes and is equipped with torpedoes and naval mines in addition to cruise missiles.
- The submarine can operate more than 200 metres below sea level for up to 35 days.
- It has subsurface-to-surface missiles with a range of about 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles), making it capable in reaching Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.
- The launch is one of the most important projects Iran’s military have undertaken in the last 40 years mostly because of its vertical launching system.
Heightening Global Tensions
Iran has been aggressively launching new weapons in the recent few months. On 2nd February 2019, the day of the 40th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, they successfully test-fired the Hoveizeh cruise missile, with a range of up to 1,350km. Again on 7th February, they test-fired a new surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) called the Dezful. This aggressive weaponisation by Iran and the withdrawal of the USA from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA on May 8, 2018, is fuelling the global tensions.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (USA, UK, China, Russia, France and Germany), and the European Union.
Under this agreement, Iran agreed to reduce its medium-enriched Uranium stockpile and reduce the number of Uranium centrifuges in the coming 13 years. Iran also agreed to give regular access to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to their nuclear facilities. In return, the economic and nuclear sanctions on Iran were lifted by the USA, EU and the United Nations.
Macedonia takes a major step on road to NATO membership. The conflict over the name with Greece had become a damper in its membership to NATO. With the conflict with Greece taken to logical end with the conclusion of Prespa Agreement, Macedonia has signed accession papers with NATO.
The signing of accession papers allows Macedonia take part in NATO ministerial meetings as an invitee. To acquire full membership, all 29 current members must ratify the accession protocol.
Russia Raises Concerns
Russia has raised concerns against Macedonia becoming part of NATO. Russia has accused NATO of destabilising the Balkans by pushing Macedonia and Montenegro to join NATO.
Russia sees Balkan nations as its sphere of influence and is against NATO or any other body led by US or EU making inroads to these Balkan countries. NATO’s membership provides a guarantee of mutual defence, provides a welcome insurance policy against possible incursions. Russia perceives this as an attempt by the west to contain it by making inroads to the areas which Russia considers its sphere of influence.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is a military and political alliance established through the Washington Treaty. NATO aims to promote democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
Article 5 of the Washington Treaty states that an armed attack against one of the member states would be considered as an attack against all members, and other members would assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.