8 May 2024

What India’s MIRV test adds to the ‘strategic trilemma’ in South Asia

Huma Rehman

On March 11, India successfully tested a new multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) technology on its Agni-V medium- to intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, sparking concerns about the country’s strategic ambitions. More broadly the test also added new uncertainties and deterrence challenges in the realm of missile defense technologies in South Asia.

The technological gap between China and India and the asymmetry in technological capability between Pakistan and India are driving each state’s current strategic posture. While the improvements and upgrades in defense inventory have raised significant concerns in the regional dynamics, potentially destabilizing technologies like MIRVs now risk fueling a full-scale arms race between China, India, and Pakistan.

India’s new MIRV technology poses a significant challenge to security analysts because of the absence of a regional crisis management framework that would reduce the risk of unintended escalation or accidental deployment of nuclear weapons. Without such a framework, a military crisis involving India, Pakistan, and China carries the possibility of inadvertently—or purposely—reaching the nuclear threshold. With the employment of MIRVs, this regional vulnerability increases significantly, calling for urgent risk reduction mechanisms to address the “strategic trilemma” in South Asia.

Nepal-China Connectivity Endeavours – Analysis

Puspa Sharma

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha was in China from 24 March to 1 April 2024 on an official trip upon the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. Since becoming foreign minister after the change in coalition and formation of a new government in Nepal less than a month ago, this was Shrestha’s first foreign trip. A number of issues were discussed during the visit, most of them related to connectivity.

Nepal requested China to re-open the 14 traditional border points between the two countries that China had closed since the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of these border points has been especially difficult for people living along the Nepal-China border. Only last year, China re-opened four border points, which are crucial for land-based trade between Nepal and China.

Nepal also requested China’s reciprocity on the visa waiver facility. Since 2016, Nepal has waived visa fees for Chinese travellers, and Nepal has, therefore, also requested China to waive the visa fees for Nepali nationals visiting China.

Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebook Paints China as Central Villain - OPINION

Mark S. Cogan

The more things change the more they stay the same. In the 2024 Diplomatic Bluebook, recently released through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan assertively labeled China a global threat, while still carefully trying to balance both positive and negative terms. The new edition employs much stronger language about its regional rival, characterizing Beijing’s activity in the South China Sea as “unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.” The not-so-subtle change in the language in the new edition (as well as the previous 2023 edition) is predicated on the central theme of Beijing’s progressively coercive efforts.

The changes are also representative of the technological advancements that have altered the security dynamic in the region, as Tokyo worries about China’s dramatic increases in military spending, which the U.S. recently warned could exceed more than $700 billion. This was parallel to a concern raised by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi back in March. The fog in which Beijing operates also comes from a buildup in the East and South China Seas, which has drawn the ire of Defense Minister Minoru Kihara. Informationization has long been a priority of China, which has aimed to open a new area of modern warfare through multiple channels of communication-based infrastructure.

China’s Chilling Cognitive Warfare Plans

Recent years have seen lively discussions about cognitive warfare, centering on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). According to an October 5, 2022 piece in the PLA Daily, cognitive warfare is conflict in the cognitive domain formed from human consciousness and thoughts, which is believed to shape reality in a way favorable to China by influencing human judgment, changing ideas, and influencing the human mind through selective processing and propagation of information. In other words, the aim is to gain an advantage in war by influencing the perceptions of civilians, military personnel, and political leaders, who are targeted through various means such as dissemination of disinformation and cyberattacks, causing social confusion, reduced motivation to fight, military demoralization, and – among political leaders – reduced judgment.

Cognitive warfare, such as propaganda using radio broadcasts and deception through the dissemination of disinformation, is hardly a recent phenomenon, but the PLA’s focus on it follows developments in technology that greatly enhance its effectiveness. The first development was the global expansion of the internet and the rapid spread of social media. The latter in particular has made it possible to instantly distribute large volumes of tampered or biased information among a very large number of targets, creating the infrastructure for effective cognitive warfare.

For Xi Jinping, Religion Is Power

Judith Hertog

Shangri-la is best-known as a fictional place—an idyllic valley first imagined by a British novelist in the 1930s—but look at a map and you’ll find it. Sitting at the foot of the Himalayas in southwestern China, Shangri-la went by a more prosaic name until 2001, when the city was rebranded by Chinese officials eager to boost tourism. Their ploy worked.

The star of Shangri-la is the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery. Since its destruction in 1966, during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, this Tibetan Buddhist monastery has been rebuilt into a sprawling complex crowned by golden rooftops and home to more than 700 monks. It was humming with construction when I visited in October—and filled with Chinese tourists.

Like many monasteries, Sumtseling is thriving thanks to Tibetan Buddhism’s growing popularity in China. When the government loosened restrictions on religious worship in the 1990s, the practice took off, especially among urban elites unsatisfied with the Chinese Communist Party’s materialist worldview. It’s an open secret that even high-ranking party officials follow Tibetan lamas.

Macron meets Xi: Two emperors on the edge of two war


When Xi Jinping sits down for a state banquet with Emmanuel Macron on Monday, the flowing champagne and glittering chandeliers at the Elysée Palace won't be able to outshine one glaring truth: These two emperors are shaping up to fight.

First, Xi — the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong — stands accused by Western governments of helping Vladimir Putin wage war in Ukraine by supplying technology and equipment for the Russian military.

Second, the European Union and Beijing are on the brink of a full-blown trade war. Macron has been pushing Brussels to get tough with China over flooding the market with cheap electric vehicles. In return, Xi is threatening to slap tariffs on cognac, a painful gesture that’s left the French president and his homegrown liquor industry with a nasty headache.

Even the usual pomp and ceremony accompanying such a state visit is somewhat toned down this time. Instead of hosting Xi at the Palace of Versailles, with its ornate hall of mirrors, fountains and extensive gardens 12 miles West of Paris, Macron invited him to the Elysée, his city-center residence for a more work-like summit.

Xi Visits Europe, Seeking Strategic Opportunit

Roger Cohen and Chris Buckley

On his first visit to Europe in five years, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, appears intent on seizing opportunities to loosen the continent’s bonds with the United States and forge a world freed of American dominance.

The Chinese leader has chosen three countries to visit — France, Serbia and Hungary — that all, to a greater or lesser degree, look askance at America’s postwar ordering of the world, see China as a necessary counterweight and are eager to bolster economic ties.

At a time of tensions with much of Europe — over China’s “no limits” embrace of Russia despite the war in Ukraine, its surveillance state and its apparent espionage activities that led to the recent arrest in Germany of four people — Mr. Xi, who arrived in France on Sunday, wants to demonstrate China’s growing influence on the continent and pursue a pragmatic rapprochement.

Let’s All Take a Deep Breath About China

Rory Truex

The amygdala is a pair of neural clusters near the base of the brain that assesses danger and can help prompt a fight-or-flight response. A prolonged stress response may contribute to anxiety, which can cause people to perceive danger where there is none and obsess about worst-case scenarios.

America’s collective national body is suffering from a chronic case of China anxiety. Nearly anything with the word “Chinese” in front of it now triggers a fear response in our political system, muddling our ability to properly gauge and contextualize threats. This has led the U.S. government and American politicians to pursue policies grounded in repression and exclusion, mirroring the authoritarian system that they seek to combat.

Congress has moved to force the sale of TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media application; some states have sought restrictions on Chinese individuals or entities owning U.S. land and on Chinese researchers working in American universities; and the federal government has barred certain Chinese technology firms from competing in our markets. These measures all have a national security rationale, and it is not my intention here to weigh the merits of every one. But collectively they are yielding a United States that is fundamentally more closed — and more like China in meaningful ways.

The Iranian-Israel Conflict And Impact On The Middle East – OpEd

Simon Hutagalung

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict emerged as a prominent and protracted issue in the Middle East spanning more than seven decades. This enduring dispute between Iran and Israel is influenced by a multitude of factors including territorial disputes divergent religious ideologies and formidable military establishments. The intricate and persistent nature of the Israeli relationship with Iranian has engendered significant military hostilities warfare politics and turmoil yielding consequential political transformations within the region.

A primary concern related to influencing Iranian is its support of anti-Israeli militant groups namely Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran not only provides financial backing to these organizations but trains also and supplies their combatants. Consequently, Israeli security is gravely threatened as these armed proxies currently are being nurtured just beyond its borders. Moreover, Iran’s leadership intermittently calls for the of eradication Israel and has even hinted at employing nuclear weapons thereby demonstrating a disconcerting level of duplicity.

Will Saudi Arabia Get the Bomb?

Daniel Byman, Doreen Horschig, and Elizabeth Kos

Last year, less than a month before Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel changed everything, Israel and Saudi Arabia were negotiating an agreement to normalize ties. After decades of icy relations, Riyadh’s price for peace was admittedly high: in addition to U.S. security guarantees and at least token Israeli concessions on Palestinian sovereignty, Saudi negotiators were demanding access to civilian nuclear technology. Today, despite a fresh push by the Biden administration, such an agreement remains only a remote possibility. With the Israel-Hamas war raging on, even if Saudi officials were interested in talking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they would likely find it impossible to negotiate a lasting peace while Arab publics, including their own, are outraged at the humanitarian crisis Israel’s military campaign has created in Gaza. Although negotiations may never resume, they remain an important source of potential leverage in the U.S.-Israeli relationship—one that officials in Washington believe could not only help facilitate a cease-fire in Gaza but also induce broader Israeli concessions on Palestinian statehood.

As the United States thinks through how to promote stability in the Middle East, both during and after the war in Gaza, the issue of the Saudi nuclear program will loom large. If Washington hopes to dangle the carrot of Saudi normalization to motivate Israeli policy, it will need to consider Riyadh’s demands for civilian nuclear cooperation and defense requests—a development that could dramatically alter the regional security picture, particularly if Saudi Arabia could eventually want a weapons program, too. For now, the proposed Saudi nuclear program would involve civilian nuclear reactors managed under a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But Riyadh has historically voiced unease with even those standard limitations, and peaceful nuclear programs are often the first step toward acquiring nuclear weapons. Although Saudi Arabia does not yet have substantial nuclear infrastructure of its own, it is constructing a small nuclear research reactor on the outskirts of Riyadh and building ballistic missiles with China’s help.

The Iranian Attack: An Opportunity to Repair Israel–Jordan Relations

Ofir Winter

In recent months, Jordan has been unwillingly drawn into the conflict between Israel and its enemies ongoing since October 7. It even participated in the regional and international efforts to thwart Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel on April 13. Missiles and UAVs that penetrated Jordanian airspace were successfully thwarted, putting the kingdom in a clash with Iran, and possibly with segments of its own population that supported the attack.

Jordan’s stance required unwavering courage. According to a report by a news agency close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran had threatened Jordan before the attack that it would become a target if it cooperated with Israel. In response, the Jordan Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires in the kingdom for a reprimand, after which the Iranian embassy in Amman backed down from the threat. An editorial in the official Jordanian newspaper, Al-Rai, stated that Jordan would not be used as an executioner or a chessboard for regional conflicts. Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman al-Safadi, emphasized that Jordan would also behave the same way toward Israel if it used Jordanian skies to attack Iran. He warned Iran not to harm Jordan as part of its war against Israel, noting previous smuggling of weapons and drugs from Syria to Jordan and cyberattacks by pro-Iranian militias on Jordanian state institutions.

Keep An Eye On The Balkans: It’s The World’s Next Flash Point – Analysis

Luke Coffey

When considering the security and stability of Europe, the first thing that comes to mind is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. After all, it is the largest outbreak of war in Europe since the 1940s.

However, about 1,000 kilometers to the southwest of the front lines in Ukraine, another European security crisis is brewing.

The Balkans region in southeastern Europe is prone to instability. It faces many economic challenges. Ethnic, religious and sectarian differences remain a source of friction in society. And for better or worse, it is also susceptible to the influence of outside actors; Russia, the US, China and Turkiye, among others, all have interests and hold sway in the region.

After several bloody sectarian wars in the 1990s, following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Europeans and Americans were able to stabilize the region through a series of peacekeeping operations. The geopolitical situation in the Balkans has since remained stable but fragile. There has not been a serious threat of instability— until now.

The dizzying pace of Ukrainian drone innovation


There’s no place in the world where drone innovation is happening faster than in Ukraine.

The drone war has been an equalizer in the mismatched war of aggression by Russia. With fewer funds and fewer soldiers, Ukraine has needed to out-think and out-innovate the Russian military. And nowhere is that more evident than in drone technology, which has grown by leaps and bounds since the full-scale invasion just over two years ago.

“It would be fair to say that Ukraine has done a great amount of work in the drone area by using the cheapest parts for drones to develop the most effective weapons,” said Alexander Chernyavskiy, the head of the Ukrainian charity fund Free in Spirit. “The U.S. creates the most advanced drones in the world… in Ukraine, we don't have [many] resources to buy such expensive drones.”

NATO defines 'red lines for Ukraine's entry into war with Russia

Daria Dmytriieva

NATO has confidentially and unofficially identified at least two "red lines" that could lead to the Alliance's direct intervention in the war in Ukraine, according to to Repubblica.

The agency emphasizes that there are currently no operational plans that foresee the deployment of troops to Ukraine, and the described "red lines" should be considered only as an assessment of potential plans in the event of extraordinary circumstances, such as involvement in a war in Ukraine by third parties.

The first "red line"

The first "red line" focuses on the scenario of direct or indirect involvement by a third party, such as in the event of a possible breakthrough in northwestern Ukraine, creating a corridor between Ukraine and Belarus.

"This tactical scenario has recently been considered likely by several analysts of the allies. This would directly involve Minsk in the war. Its troops and arsenal would be crucial for Moscow. And this circumstance could only activate the defense in favor of Ukraine," the article states.

The New Space Race

Chad Wolf

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite into orbit and set off a decades-long space race rivalry with the U.S. It was a pivotal moment that galvanized America into action, spurring innovation and accelerating the development of our capabilities in space. In the end, our rigorous efforts paid off and America was the first to put a man on the moon in 1969. The triggering “Sputnik moment” was a wake-up call that brought about a course correction, and the U.S. eventually gaining, and maintaining, the lead in space.

Years later, we are at another crossroads facing an even more complex and turbulent global landscape. Amidst this backdrop, China, our most formidable adversary, is speeding ahead in its quest to become a military, economic, and technological superpower, capable of challenging democracy around the world. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) has clearly made dominance in space a universal imperative with significant advancements in space-based technology. As it was in 1957, this should be a warning call to all those concerned about America’s national security.

Erdogan v. Netanyahu: Where does this go?


Turkey recently suspended trade with Israel because of the “worsening humanitarian tragedy” in Gaza.

Ankara says it will resume trade if Israel permits an “uninterrupted and sufficient flow” of aid into the enclave. Predictably, Israel’s chief diplomat, Israel Katz, accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of behaving like a “dictator” while “disregarding the interests of the Turkish people and businessmen and ignoring international trade agreements.” Hamas unsurprisingly praised Turkey.

Tensions between Turkey and Israel have soared at various points in recent decades, such as the 2009 Davos Summit and the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid. Yet, until now, Turkish-Israeli economic relations always weathered those storms. Therefore, Turkey halting trade with Israel this month is a big deal.

“Since mid-October last year, when President Erdogan stepped up his sharp criticism of Israel’s attack on civilians in Gaza, trade has been the one element of the two countries’ relationship that has remained positive. Now that Turkey has cut off all trade with Israel, that positive element is gone,” Matthew Bryza, the former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, told RS.

Cease-Fire Talks Between Israel and Hamas Again at an Impasse

Adam Rasgon

The latest round of negotiations between Israel and Hamas hit an impasse on Sunday as mediators struggled to bridge remaining gaps and a Hamas delegation departed the talks in Cairo, according to two senior Hamas officials and two other officials familiar with the talks. An Israeli official also confirmed the negotiations had stalled and described them as being in “crisis.”

For months, the negotiations aimed at achieving a cease-fire and a release of hostages have made little progress, but signs the two sides were coming closer to an agreement appeared over the last week. Israel backed off some of its long-held demands and a top Hamas official said the group was studying the latest Israeli offer with a “positive spirit.”

But the setback over the weekend meant Palestinians living in miserable conditions in Gaza would not experience an imminent reprieve and the families of hostages held by militants would have to wait longer for the freedom of their loved ones.

Blinken Turns Up Pressure on Hamas to Accept Gaza Cease-Fire Deal

Edward Wong, Adam Rasgon and Thomas Fuller

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivered twin messages to Hamas and Israel on Wednesday, pressing Hamas to accept a cease-fire proposal while at the same time urging Israeli leaders to put off a major ground invasion into the thickly populated southern Gaza city of Rafah.

On the last day of a Middle East trip, his seventh visit to the region since the war began in October, Mr. Blinken tried to turn up the pressure on Hamas.

“We are determined to get a cease-fire that brings the hostages home and to get it now, and the only reason that that wouldn’t be achieved is because of Hamas,” Mr. Blinken said at the start of a meeting in Tel Aviv with Isaac Herzog, the president of Israel. “There is a proposal on the table, and as we’ve said: No delays, no excuses. The time is now.”

Israel tells civilians to leave Rafah as it warns of imminent ‘operation’

Mehul Srivastava and Neri Zilber

The Israeli military has told tens of thousands of Palestinians to leave the southern Gazan city of Rafah, with Israel’s defence minister warning of an imminent military “operation” as talks to free Israeli hostages appeared to have stalled. 

An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson told reporters that at least 100,000 civilians in eastern Rafah, along the border with Israel, should move to what Israel calls a humanitarian zone on the Mediterranean. 

The spokesperson described this as “a limited scope” operation that was part of a “gradual plan”. 

Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, told troops in Gaza on Sunday that there were “worrying signs” that negotiations over a ceasefire and a hostage swap with militant group Hamas were foundering. 

“The implication of this is an operation in Rafah and all of the Gaza Strip in the very near future,” he said. “We are a moment before action.”

Russia warns Britain and plans nuclear drills over the West’s possible deepening role in Ukrain

Russia on Monday threatened to strike British military facilities and said it would hold drills simulating the use of battlefield nuclear weapons amid sharply rising tensions over comments by senior Western officials about possibly deeper involvement in the war in Ukraine.

After summoning the British ambassador to the Foreign Ministry, Moscow warned that Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory with U.K.-supplied weapons could bring retaliatory strikes on British military facilities and equipment on Ukrainian soil or elsewhere.

The remarks came on the eve of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration to a fifth term in office and in a week when Moscow on Thursday will celebrate Victory Day, its most important secular holiday, marking its defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

The drills are a response to “provocative statements and threats of certain Western officials regarding the Russian Federation,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Russia to Hold Drills on Tactical Nuclear Weapons in New Tensions With West

Anton Troianovski

Russia said on Monday that it would hold military exercises with troops based near Ukraine to practice for the possible use of battlefield nuclear weapons, a provocative warning aimed at discouraging the West from deepening its support for Ukraine.

These weapons, often referred to as “tactical,” are designed for battlefield use and have smaller warheads than the “strategic” nuclear weapons meant to target cities. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that President Vladimir V. Putin had ordered an exercise for missile, aviation and naval personnel to “increase the readiness of nonstrategic nuclear forces to carry out combat missions.”

The announcement of the exercise was Russia’s most explicit warning in its more than two-year invasion of Ukraine that it could use tactical nuclear weapons there. The Kremlin said it came in response to comments by two European leaders that raised the prospect of more direct Western intervention in the war.

A New Age of Empires

Chloe Hadavas

We often think of the age of empire as in the past—the Roman Empire, the Qing Dynasty, British imperialism. But as the essays below argue, empires are alive and well in the 21st century. Some take new forms, such as the corporate titans of the internet age. Others are directly inspired by imperial histories and a revanchist spirit.

Beware Of AI-Based Deception Detection

Oh, if only it were as easy as with Pinocchio. Here it was simple to see when he was telling a lie: after all, his nose grew a little longer each time. In reality, it is much more difficult to recognize lies and it is only understandable that scientist have already for a long time been trying to develop valid deception detection methods.

Now, much hope has been placed in artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve this goal, for example in the attempt to identity travelers with criminal intentions at the EU borders of Hungary, Greece and Lithuania.

A Valuable Tool for Basic Research

Researchers at the Universities of Marburg and Würzburg are now warning against the premature use of AI to detect lies. In their opinion, the technology is a potentially valuable tool for basic research to gain a better insight into the psychological mechanisms that underlie deception. However, they are more than skeptical about its application in real-life contexts.

Microsoft Overhauls Cybersecurity Strategy After Scathing CSRB Repor

Ryan Naraine

“This is job number one for us,” Bell said in his first public comments since the Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) called public attention to “a cascade of avoidable Microsoft errors” that led to one of the most daring APT attacks in history.

“We must and will do more. We are making security our top priority at Microsoft, above all else — over all other features,” Bell declared, announcing plans to add Deputy CISOs into each product team and link a portion of senior leaders’ paychecks to progress on security milestones and goals.

In addition, engineering teams across Microsoft Azure, Windows, Microsoft 365, and Security have begun what Bell refers to as “engineering waves” to prioritize security enhancements and remediation within an expanded Secure Future Initiative (SFI).

DARPA is testing this autonomous tank with glowing “eyes”

Kristin Houser

DARPA just tested an autonomous tank that could help keep soldiers safe — and even more self-driving military vehicles are on the horizon. If autonomous vehicles prove capable enough for the battlefield, the tech could someday start finding its way over to civilian uses, too.

The challenge: Tanks have played an important role in the US military for more than 100 years, thanks to their tremendous firepower and armor, but every time the Army puts a soldier into a tank and sends them into combat, it’s putting their life at risk.

Even if the tank is never attacked by an enemy, there’s some evidence that simply firing a tank can cause brain damage for the operators inside, potentially leading to problems with cognition and mental health.

An autonomous tank: In 2020, DARPA launched the Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program to develop algorithms capable of controlling tanks and other off-road military vehicles.