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Thursday, 19 June 2014

From Today's Papers - 19 Jun 2014

 India opposes Russia’s decision to sell arms to Pak
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
India today conveyed to Russia its concern over Moscow's decision to lift embargo on the supply of Mi-35 attack helicopters and defence equipment to Pakistan. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin that Moscow must keep in mind India's sensitivities while dealing with its neighbours on defence-related matters. Rogozin also held talks with Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin confirmed that the issue did figure during Swaraj's four-hour meeting with Rogozin in the context of defence cooperation between India and Russia.

Official sources said New Delhi had unambiguously told Moscow in recent days that it could not be business-as-usual on the defence front between the two countries until Moscow reconsidered its decision. India imports nearly 60 per cent of its defence equipment from Russia.

The meeting between Swaraj and Rogozin was the first high-level contact between the two countries after the Narendra Modi government assumed office. The two ministers also discussed the possible dates for the annual summit between Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Delhi towards the end of the year. The two leaders are also scheduled to meet next month in Brazil on the margins of the BRICS Summit.

The spokesperson said the principal focus of the talks was on how to harness the "untapped potential" of their economic ties and raise it from the $10 billion at present, of which Russian exports amount to $6.5 billion.

Both sides have decided to set up a joint feasibility study on a free trade agreement between India and Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which have formed the Eurasian Economic Union bloc.

Swaraj informed the Russian minister that the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant attained full capacity on June 7. The second unit was to attain criticality at the end of the year. In April this year, India and Russia signed an agreement to build units 3 and 4 of the power plant.
Chinese copter flies over two ITBP posts

New Delhi, June 18
A Chinese helicopter had flown over two Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) posts near Barahoti in Uttarakhand, located along the Line of Actual Control, earlier this month and in April.

Sources in the security establishment confirmed that a Chinese helicopter had flown over the ITBP posts on June 13 and April 30. The ITBP has submitted a report in this regard to the Home Affairs Ministry. Barahoti is a disputed territory along the LAC with China. — TNS

Violation in U’khand
Security establishment confirmed that a Chinese helicopter had flown over the ITBP posts near Barahoti in Uttarakhand, located along the Line of Actual Control, on June 13 and April 30
India should counter the challenge diplomatically
G Parthasarathy
While explaining the rationale for Pakistan's nuclear weapon programme, its then Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto noted that while the Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilizations had nuclear weapons capability, it was the Islamic civilization alone that did not possess nuclear weapons. He asserted that he would be remembered as the man who had provided the Islamic civilization with full nuclear capability. Bhutto's views on Pakistan's nuclear weapons contributing to the capabilities of the Islamic civilization were shared by Pakistan's senior nuclear scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood who, along with his colleague Chaudhri Abdul Majeed, was detained shortly after the terrorist strikes of 9/11. They were both charged with helping Al Qaida acquire nuclear and biological weapon capabilities. Two other Pakistan scientists, Suleiman Asad and Al Mukhtar, wanted for questioning about their links with Osama bin Laden, disappeared after it was claimed that they had gone to Myanma.

The original sinner in nuclear proliferation, however, is not Pakistan, but China. Director of the Wisconsin Project of Arms Control Gary Milhollin has commented: "If you subtract China's help from the Pakistani nuclear programme, there is no Pakistani nuclear programme". There is evidence, including hints from Bhutto's prison memoirs, that suggest that China initially agreed to help Pakistan develop nuclear weapons when Bhutto visited Beijing in 1976. It is now acknowledged that by 1983 China had supplied Pakistan with enough enriched uranium for around two weapons and the designs for a 25-Kiloton bomb. Chinese support for the Pakistan programme is believed to have included a quid pro quo in the form of Pakistan providing China the designs of centrifuge enrichment plants. Interestingly, thanks to China, Pakistan acquired nuclear arsenal at least five years before India decided to cross the nuclear threshold.

China's assistance to Pakistan continued even after Beijing acceded to the NPT. When Pakistan's enrichment programme faced problems in 1995, China supplied Pakistan 5,000 ring magnets. China has subsequently supplied Pakistan with unsafeguarded plutonium processing facilities at Khushab. There is also evidence that China has supplied Pakistan with a range of nuclear weapons designs with the passage of time. While the nuclear weapons designs supplied by Dr A.Q. Khan to Libya were of a Chinese warhead tested in the 1960s, the nuclear warheads tested by Pakistan in 1998 were of a different design

According to Thomas Reed, a former Secretary of the US Air Force, who was closely associated with the US nuclear weapons establishment and Dan Stillman, a US nuclear expert who had extensive interactions with his Chinese counterparts a Pakistani derivative of the Chinese CHIV-4 nuclear bomb was tested by Pakistan in China on May 26, 1990. This was eight years before India's 1998 tests that validated its nuclear weapons. Reed stated that while in China, Stillman had noted that his stay at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear Research "also produced a first insight into the extensive hospitality extended to Pakistani nuclear scientists during the late 1980s time period". Reed has disclosed that "in 1982, China's Premier Deng Xiao Ping began the transfer of nuclear technology to Pakistan".

Moreover, after warmly welcoming Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Beijing in 1988, Deng commenced missile collaboration with Pakistan, with the supply of short range Hatf 2 missiles. This was followed up by assistance to manufacture Shaheen 1 (750 km range) and Shaheen 2 (range 1500-2000 km), at Fatehjang. China has thus not only provided Pakistan assistance for manufacturing nuclear weapons, but also for missiles which can target population centres across India. Not satisfied with providing nuclear weapons designs, knowhow and modern uranium enrichment centrifuges, China soon found that Pakistan's arsenal would become more potent if it included lighter plutonium warheads, both for easier mating with the Chinese designed ballistic missile and for development of tactical nuclear weapons.

Pakistan and China adopt a parallel approach on nuclear and missile proliferation in the Islamic world. Saudi Arabia's Defence Minister, Prince Sultan, was given unprecedented access to Pakistan's nuclear weapons facilities in Kahuta in March 1999. Shortly thereafter Dr. A.Q. Khan paid a visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Prince Sultan in November 1999. Khan's visit was followed by a visit to Pakistan's nuclear facilities by Saudi scientists who had been invited by him to visit Pakistan. Given these developments and the fact that China had supplied long-range CSS 2 Saudi missiles to Saudi Arabia in the past, there is interest about the precise directions that nuclear and missile collaboration of Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia could take. Pakistan could, for example, justify the deployment of nuclear weapons and missiles on Saudi soil. It is not without significance that the Chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen Khalid Shamim Wynne, who handles its nuclear arsenal, was received at a high level in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, while Pakistan provided the designs of nuclear centrifuges to Iran over two decades ago, China is known to have been on the forefront of transfer of ballistic missile knowhow and technology to Tehran.

The issue of Beijing issuing stapled visas for Indian nationals from Arunachal Pradesh visiting China was raised by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during the recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi by pointedly calling on China to adopt a “One India” policy. While the Chinese provide stapled visas for Indian nationals from Arunachal Pradesh and oppose international funding for projects in Arunachal Pradesh and J&K, they warmly and officially welcome high functionaries from PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan. Members of China's Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA) have in recent years been involved in large numbers in building roads and tunnels in Gilgit/Baltistan. The construction work is said to be for a transportation corridor linking China to Arabian Sea at the Port of Gwadar. But tunnels across high mountains slopes are also ideal locations for nuclear weapon silos. India has passively not taken up its concerns about the China-Pakistan missile and nuclear collaboration strongly with Beijing. This challenge surely needs to be more seriously addressed and countered, both diplomatically and strategically.
Refinery targeted; Iraq seeks US air strike

Baghdad, June 18
As Sunni insurgents launched a strong offensive by targeting the country's biggest oil refinery, Iraq on Wednesday requested the US for air strikes on militants, who have made rapid territorial gains.

Sunni fighters were in control of three quarters of the territory of the Baiji refinery north of Baghdad, an official said there, after heavy fighting at gates defended by elite troops who have been under siege for a week.

A lightning advance has seen Sunni fighters rout the Shi'ite-led government's army and seize the main cities across the north of the country since last week. The fighters are led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters that Iraq had asked for air strikes "to break the morale" of ISIL. He added that Iraq's ally, Shi'ite Muslim power Iran, had so far not intervened to help the Baghdad government but "everything is possible".

In Washington, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged to the Congress on Wednesday that Iraq had sought US air support, but gave no details of the request. "We have a request from the Iraqi Government for air strike," Dempsey told a hearing. Asked whether the US should honour that request, Dempsey said: "It is in our national security interest to counter ISIL wherever we find them."

Washington has deployed some 275 military personnel to protect its embassy in Baghdad. — Agencies

US Senator against sending troops to Iraq

Ahead of a crucial meeting with US President Barack Obama over the escalating crisis in Iraq, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday said he does not back sending American troops to the country.

An Iraqi soldier keeps watch in west Baghdad on Wendesday. AFP
Indian Army test fires Akash missile
Balasore, June 18 (IBNS): The Indian Army successfully test fired Akash missile in very low altitude near boundary mission from the Integrated Test Range, Balasore, Odisha on Wednesday.
This flight trial was last among the validation trials being carried out by the Army on the first off production models of Akash supersonic missile.

"The supersonic missile intercepted the very small unmanned fast moving Banshee aerial vehicle at 30 m altitude above sea level proving the system capability against subsonic cruise missile. The sophisticated multi-function radar with built in features tracked the low flying target continuously throughout its course. Special algorithms / techniques developed by DRDO for overcoming the multiple target reflections coming from the sea worked perfectly in the mission," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

 With this flight trial, Indian Army accomplishes all the validation trials on the first off production models and the system is being delivered for induction.

AvinashChander, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Director General,DRDO congratulated the teams from DRDO, Production agencies and Army for successful demonstration of intercepting the target in a low altitude near boundary mission and said, “While indigenous development, production and induction of Akash is making very significant contribution to India’s self-reliance in air defence technologies, Akash also has great export potential."

The trials were supervised by G Chandramouli, Project Director Akash and were witnessed by Director General Army Air Defence and other senior officials of Army and Ministry of Defence.

Akash mobile Air Defence Weapon System has been designed, developed and led to production by DRDO for defending and protecting the important assets of the country from penetrating aerial attacks.

It has completed all the development flight tests, user trials and the system is in production for Army and Air Force.

The sophisticated technology has been successfully transferred to lead production agencies BEL and BDL. More than 250 industries are engaged in production and supply of various subsystems / components with military / aerospace grade quality for Akash missile and ground systems.

BEL and BDL are engaged in executing the production orders worth more than Rs 20,000 Cr placed by armed forced for the Akash missile systems.

In addition, independent orders for 3D-Central acquisition radar, an offshoot of Akash missile system have also been placed by the three services.

The Akash missile systems worth Rs 3500 Cr have already been produced and delivered to
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley's significant visit to Jammu and Kashmir
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, as was expected, chose Jammu and Kashmir as his first border state destination for an orientation visit, and that too, within a month of taking over the reins of his ministry.

There was speculation of some fireworks, since this was also the first visit of a senior minister to a state ruled by the opposition. There was also an expectation of some hard talk in tune with the Bharatiya Jnata Party's (BJP) stated policy of taking a firm stand in the matter of cease-fire violations and export of terror into the region from Pakistani soil.

The fact that Pakistan chose to carry out a ceasefire violation on the eve of the visit added to the sense of drama, accentuated by a tweet by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioning the timing of the incident.

The visit of the Defence Minister belied all negative speculations in its tone, tenor and content.

Arun Jaitley surprised everybody by expressing satisfaction and optimism at the situation in the state and thus giving a pat on the back to the presently beleaguered Chief Minister of the state.

With regard to the ceasefire violation he reiterated the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister that talks and violence cannot go hand in hand. He capped his argument by expressing full confidence in the capability of the Indian army to deal with any adverse situation that may develop along the border.

Further, he ruled out possibility of revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state.

On the political front he committed to dialogue with any group "within the framework of the constitution." Predictably, the comment elicited a sharp reaction from the Hurriyat Conference. The conglomerate rejected the possibility of a dialogue within the Constitution of India; this has set the pace for the government's engagement with the separatists in the future.

By the look of it, one would get an impression that there is no change in the policy being enunciated by the new government that advocates strong and stringent options to deal with the situation in the state. It is only when one reads between the lines that the true import of what Arun Jaitley has said comes to the fore.

It is simplistic to think that one visit by Nawaz Sharif to India and one handshake will change Pakistan's policy towards India and Kashmir.

In any case, Nawaz Sharif has a minimal role to play in the formulation and implementation of Pakistan's Kashmir policy that remains exclusively in the Pakistan army-Jihadist domain. In fact, there is no point in talking about Kashmir with Nawaz Sharif at all, the person to talk to is the other Sharif (General Raheel Sharif) who commands the Army and he does not come in the talks loop. This does not imply that diplomatic and other efforts to rein in Pakistan should be stopped; but it should also be understood that such a change of heart in the country is easier said than done.

The comments of the Defence Minister when seen against the backdrop of this realistic context are significant. He has given an open hand to the Indian Army to deal with the situation on the border in a manner that does not compromise national security.

He has also given a veiled warning to Pakistan that its maverick forces on the border will no longer get a free run in their evil designs and will be punished appropriately for their misadventures. By exuded commendable confidence in the nation's armed forces he has thrown an open challenge to the Pakistan army to do what it can and remain assured of going back with a bloody nose!

As Defence Minister he would not be expected to do more than this; evidently the matter cannot be allowed to escalate into an all out war.

The media has an important role to play in implementation of the tacit policy enunciated by the Defence Minister. Constant haranguing on ceasefire violations is not going to serve the national purpose. A better option would be to embarrass the Pakistanis for the illogical course they are following to achieve their goals, having failed miserably in implementation of their belligerent strategy over decades on end! Pakistan should be made to understand that continuing with it present course amounts to exhibiting a lack of vision.

On the political front the new government would be well advised to follow a two pronged strategy. The first prong would obviously relate to doing everything possible to strengthen peace, tranquility and development in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Kashmir valley. The second prong should be addressing the problems being faced by Indian citizens residing in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan who are reeling under sadistic domination by the Pakistanis and Chinese since the partition of the sub-continent. The people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have the right to look for Indian intervention in their fight for freedom from a neo-colonial yolk. By extending to them all support India will only be performing its moral duty.

When the centre of gravity of the issue shifts towards the occupied territories and their people there will be a spontaneous uprising against the oppressors.

It is the support of the people that will ultimately reduce violence along the line of control and, as a corollary, the export of terror apparatus into the Kashmir valley. The Indian policy should be concentrating in this direction rather than attempting to put an end to ceasefire violations which is quite unlikely.

The amiable atmospherics that the Defence Minister has created will go a long way in the benefit of the state. It will pave the way for the Home Minister and later the Prime Minister to engage with the people, the government and the security apparatus in the state in a positive manner.

A very big milestone has been crossed with ease due to the admirable handling of the situation by a mature leader. What is now required is to build on the positivity that has been generated.
DNA profiling for armed forces by 2020
PUNE: The Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) has set 2020 as the deadline for completing its ambitious project of DNA profiling and creation of a repository of all Indian armed forces personnel.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of living organisms. DNA profiling is accepted as the most-advanced and reliable method of establishing identity of living individuals as well as dead bodies and body remnants.

Knowing the identity of each soldier, especially those deployed in the forward and high-risk areas, is critical in case of deaths in the battlefield or in action. The profiling helps to identify the remains of the soldier.

"So far, we have completed 10% of the project work ever since the new DNA-profiling lab went functional last year in the department of forensic sciences here," AFMC director and commandant Vice Admiral Sushil Kumar said on Wednesday.

Deputy commandant and dean Maj Gen Velu Nair said, "The immediate focus is on the high-risk group such as air force pilots, submariners, naval divers, navy pilots, soldiers posted in high altitudes and glaciers and those in counter-insurgency operations. We have completed profiling of the air force pilots and are now moving in a phased manner to others in the high risk group. The project will eventually cover all personnel from army, air force and navy."

"We had to train our staff at the National Forensic Laboratory in Hyderabad and all our collected samples are going to labs in Spain for validation and verification. This is a time-consuming process but, validation is vital as we can't afford any mistakes in profiling of our armed forces personnel. So far, all our samples and findings have proved correct," said Nair.

On the ongoing research related impact of environment on the health of soldiers in high altitudes and the glaciers, he said, "The project is in the last stage and we will publish the results in a medical science journal of international repute in a year's time. Prima facie our studies, over the last two-and-a-half-year, has shown that environment directly is the trigger in 75% cases of health problems suffered by the soldiers."

"We are looking into the genetic and the ethnic part by analyzing our findings to know why it occurs. Also, the idea is to prepare a road map for the army commanders to take a call on reinduction of personnel in the glaciers after a specific period and how much do we compensate them medically," said Nair.

A total of 750 troops were taken from Jammu to higher altitudes above 9,000 ft to go through stages of acclimatization. "In Ladakh region, we actually have been going every quarterly, so far we have made six to seven trips and have checked them out physically and in the labs i.e. testing blood samples at macro and micro (molecular) levels. Later, all 750 troops go turn by turn to the glaciers for 90-day stay and on their return we screen them to look for blood changes. Thereafter, we follow them up for a year to see if they may have got mild blood pressure or a clot in the vein. These are known facts but what we don't know is why it occurs," said Nair.

Profiling Facts

The project, covering over 1.13 million soldiers from Indian Army, will include Indian air force and navy personnel too as per risk and priority factors

A DNA profiling centre and repository, costing Rs 2.5 crore, was inaugurated at AFMC, Pune in February 2012. The repository has the facility to store blood samples up to 21 years

Pilot exercise involving blood samples of 100 soldiers started in November 2012 for standardizing DNA profiling systems

Full-scale operations were stuck in the medico-legal question of whether DNA profiling will be accepted as evidence in the court of law

Sanctions from Union ministries of law and health, recognising the authenticity of the DNA extraction and tissue-typing process were then awaited

New centre finally went functional last year

Defence Research and Development Organisation has provided expert scientist for the profiling centre

(e-Learning Project)

At least 46 medical colleges under the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) will benefit from the direct relay and transmission of the lectures in MBBS studies at the AFMC, Pune. The MUHS has decided to fund an elaborate network of optical fibre cables to connect these colleges with the AFMC for a joint e-learning project. The AFMC has already made a significant investment in making itself e-learning enabled over the last six months by laying down cables across its campus. "We have conveyed to our preparedness to MUHS for the project and are now looking ahead to connecting the remaining colleges in phases," AFMC dean and deputy commandant Maj Gen Velu Nair said. "The idea is to start with major institutions like the BJ Medical College in Pune and government medical colleges in Kolhapur, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur etc.," he added.
Delays to India's LUH procurement 'leading to capability gap, crashes'
Recurring delays to the Indian Army's acquisition of 197 light utility helicopters (LUHs) to replace its fleet of 1960s-era French platforms have created a crisis in sustaining its formations in the Himalayas, according to a retired army official.

The postponements have been blamed for accidents involving Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs), the first in August 2013 and a second in March. Both crashes took place while the helicopters were ferrying supplies to soldiers deployed in Ladakh and on the Siachen Glacier, which borders Pakistan and China, at heights above 5000 m.

"The heavy ALHs have not yet been stabilised for such high altitudes and should never be employed there," Lieutenant General BS Pawar (retd), a former head of the Army Aviation Corps (AAC), told IHS Jane's .

"However, the continuing shortage of LUHs is compelling the army to use ALHs in Siachen with disastrous consequences," he added.

The LUH programme, under which 133 platforms would be bought for the AAC and 64 for the Indian Air Force (IAF), is intended to replace the licence-built Chetak (Aerospatiale Alouette III) and Cheetah (Aerospatiale SA-315B Lama) helicopters inducted into service more than four decades ago.

However, defence industry officials have told IHS Jane's that commercial bids to replace them submitted in 2008 by Eurocopter for its AS550 Fennec and Kamov with its Ka-226 Sergei expire on 30 June.

This deadline follows a six-month extension granted in January by India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) to the helicopter manufacturers to resolve complex corruption allegations in the LUH tender, field trials for which concluded in 2010.

On 4 January the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged a serving one-star Indian Army officer with offering to favour AgustaWestland's AW119 Koala helicopter, which competed in the LUH tender, for a EUR5 million (USD6.68 million) bribe.

The AW119 helicopter was eliminated from the competition following the first round of winter trials in 2009-10 on technical grounds, but the allegations persisted, culminating in the CBI registering a case despite an internal Indian Army inquiry revealing no wrongdoing.

At this point, it is unclear whether India's newly installed BJP government will permit Eurocopter and Kamov to extend their commercial bids to enable the CBI to conclude its inquiries and keep the LUH tender active.

It is also considering issuing a fresh request for proposals - the third for the LUH programme since 2002-03 - a development that would add another three-to-four years of trials and negotiations.

The LUH procurement was first terminated in late 2007 after the MoD revealed discrepancies in the evaluation process that had shortlisted the AS550 C3 Fennec model over the Bell 407 platform.

Repeated delays in procuring new LUHs resulted in the AAC and the IAF opting for 30-35 stopgap Cheetals from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) three years ago.

A Cheetah derivative, the Cheetal is powered by the more powerful Turbomeca TM-333-2M2 free turbine turboshaft engine and equipped with marginally better avionics. However, it also faces problems as HAL has procured outdated Series 85 high-altitude rotor blades for only 20 helicopters for the AAC - with no spares - and none for the IAF as the blades are no longer manufactured.

HAL tried to substitute Type 30 rotor blades, which failed to meet not only the high-altitude requirements of its own test pilots but also those of the IAF as they generated excessive vibration and provided inadequate lift.

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