SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

Sri Lankan authorities on Wednesday expelled an Antigua-registered ship that entered the island’s territory without declaring a radioactive cargo bound for China. The country’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Council said the MV BBC Naples was asked to leave after it was found to be in the Chinese-run port of Hambantota on Tuesday night carrying uranium hexafluoride.

“The ship failed to declare its dangerous cargo — uranium hexafluoride — and we decided to order it to leave our waters immediately,” council director general Anil Ranjith told AFP. The ship had come from Rotterdam but authorities did not say where in China it was headed.

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The Indonesian navy is searching for a submarine that went missing near the resort island of Bali with 53 people on board, the military said Wednesday. Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said the KRI Nanggala 402 was participating in a training exercise when it missed a scheduled reporting call.

The submarine is believed to have disappeared in waters about 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Bali, he said. Tjahjanto said the navy has deployed ships to search the area and has asked for help from Singapore and Australia, which have submarine rescue vessels.

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The pilot who first flew the J-20 believes that China’s most advanced stealth fighter jet will be upgraded with 2D thrust vectoring nozzles for its engines, according to a recent news report. This means the warplane will receive enhanced maneuverability and stealth capability and surpass its US counterpart, the F-22, a Chinese military expert said on Monday.

The J-20 is expected to be equipped with engines with 2D thrust vectoring nozzles, said Li Gang, the pilot of the J-20’s first flight, when asked about his expectations on the future development of the J-20’s thrust vector control capability in a recent interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV aired on Monday.

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President Joe Biden’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan includes an intense unraveling of the extensive intelligence and covert action network that the US has built there over the two decades since 9/11 as part of the global war on terror.

The current plan includes the removal of the hundreds of special operations forces not publicly acknowledged by the US government but known to be there, according to two defense officials and a senior US official with direct knowledge of the situation. Most, if not all, CIA operators working in Afghanistan are almost certain to leave as well, current and former officials told CNN. Without the support of a conventional military presence, on-the-ground intelligence gathering becomes significantly more difficult — and more dangerous.

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SOURCE: Nikkei Inc

 China’s intentions over the Taiwan Strait dominated the conversation when the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s head Adm. Philip Davidson testified on Capitol Hill last month. But a little noticed exchange during the House Armed Services Committee hearing touched on a topic that could have wide implications on the Indo-Pacific.

“I also want to touch on the recent announcement by the Navy that they would be reestablishing the 1st Fleet,” Rep. Elaine Luria from Virginia asked the four-star admiral. “So as the combatant commander and kind of looking at the Naval Forces in the [area of responsibility], do you find that the advantageous from your position to have that split between the 1st and the 7th Fleet.”

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Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said on Monday that it has completed a successful series of trials of the Barak Air and Missile Defense System, unveiling documentation of the challenging trials, in which it tested the system’s capabilities in a range of scenarios and threats, including the interception of an assaulting ballistic target by the Barak ER (Extended Range) interceptor.

The Barak ER Air Defense System developed by IAI combines the capability to intercept airborne threats at an extended range of 150 kilometers as well as ballistic targets. The ER interceptor is part of the Barak Air Defense System family, capable of various ranges. The extended range capability is made possible in part by adjusting the interceptor and MMR radar capabilities to a 150 km. range, and can be fitted for both naval and land platforms, the company said in a statement.

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SOURCE: Republic

While Pakistan is engulfed in chaos and violence, the deadlock between the government and recently proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) over the ongoing protests is still continued even as both sides met for the third time. The banned party has put forth five key demands including the resignation of Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, expelling French ambassador to Pakistan, the release of TLP leader Syed Saad Hussain Rizvi and other workers.

Even though the government initially rejected TLP’s demand and halted the talks, Rashid later announced on April 20 that the government will be presenting a resolution on the expulsion of the French ambassador in the National assembly later in the day. He released a video statement elaborating that the decision was taken after the talks with TLP.

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President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday said that the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan will require that Pakistan make a decision about whether to opt for cooperation or enmity with its neighbor. Addressing police force members at a gathering at the Presidential Palace on Sunday, President Ghani said that with the announcement of the withdrawal of international troops, the best opportunity has been provided to Afghanistan in modern history.

“After two years, we are fully prepared for the day and we have a comprehensive plan for their withdrawal,” Ghani said. “Today, it is a day of decision for Pakistan,” Ghani said. “If our country is destabilized, their country will also be unstable and if they (Pakistan) want our improvement, they will also improve.”

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The Kazakhstan Air Defense Forces (KADF) Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker multi-role combat aircraft has crashed in Balkhash, in southeastern Kazakhstan. “During routine training mission at the landing approach at the training aviation center of the city of Balkhash, the Su-30SM multi-role fighter jet crashed,” the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan reported.

A statement from the press service confirmed that both the pilots of the aircraft ejected safely and [have] been rescued. No loss of civilian life and property has been reported on ground.

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Beijing is hesitant to let Iran have its J-10C lightweight fighter jet in a barter trade for oil or natural gas, according to military analysts. Minnie Chan in an article in South China Morning Post (SCMP) wrote that Tehran is said to be interested in buying 36 advanced Chinese fighter jets but finding the cash could be difficult.

As per SCMP, there were reports in Chinese media about Iran’s interest in J-10 jets after UN’s 13-year arms embargo on Tehran expired in October 2020. Th UN embargo prohibited Iran from buying foreign weapons like tanks and fighter jets. Zhou Chenming, a researcher with the Yuan Wang think tank, a Beijing-based military science and technology institute, is of the view that deflation of Iran’s official currency, the rial, in recent years had forced the Tehran government to hold on to as many foreign currencies as possible.

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A drone ship used for intelligence gathering “by a foreign country” has been found by Chinese fishermen off the nation’s east coast, according to state media. The small unmanned ship – equipped with solar panels, antennas and surveillance equipment – was hauled from the water by a fishing boat near Jiangsu province recently, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Wednesday.

The fishermen handed the 3-metre vessel to an unnamed national research institute, which described it as “a reconnaissance device secretly placed by a foreign country in China’s waters”, the report said. It did not give further details of the drone ship, but mainland military watchers posted on social media that the images looked similar to the Wave Glider – an autonomous boat that is wave- and solar-powered, built by US company Liquid Robotics, a Boeing subsidiary.

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Beijing may consider sending a peacekeeping force to Afghanistan if the security situation in the South Asian country poses a threat to the neighbouring Chinese province of Xinjiang after American troops pull out, analysts said.US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he would withdraw all remaining US troops – about 2,500 – from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack in New York.

The withdrawal may pose a threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability, which could spill over into Xinjiang and disrupt China’s counterterrorism efforts.In 2018, China trained Afghan troops and helped set up a mountain brigade. The training took place in China and the aim of the brigade was to counter possible attacks by al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

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Near the peak of the American war in Afghanistan, a former chief of neighboring Pakistan’s military intelligence — an institution allied both to the U.S. military and to its Taliban adversaries — appeared on a talk show called “Joke Night” in 2014. He put a bold prediction on the record.

“When history is written,” declared Gen. Hamid Gul, who led the feared spy service known as the I.S.I. during the last stretch of the Cold War in the 1980s, “it will be stated that the I.S.I. defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America.”

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SOURCE: Press Trust of India

Pakistan on Friday temporarily suspended the services of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to stop their use to organise demonstrations following violent protests by a radical religious group that has now been banned by the government.

The government banned Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) on Thursday following three days of violent protest by it to force the government to expel the French ambassador over a blasphemous caricature published in France last year. The TLP had launched the country-wide protest on Monday after the arrest of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi. The TLP supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies in several towns and cities earlier this week, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.

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SOURCE:  Deutsche Welle 

After almost two decades since the US invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime, Washington is set to exit the country. US media reports say that President Joe Biden has decided to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

The military withdrawal will not depend on the situation on the ground — despite fears that the Taliban could make major gains, according to these reports. “The president has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever,” an official told reporters on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.

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