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The Double-Edged Sword of Politics in the 2018 Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference

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The states parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) have begun their fourth review conference last week, to discuss the implementation of the convention in the past five years and to set its goals to the near future. This review conference is facing some major challenges, derived from the weakening of the CWC non-use norm and the deepening of political polarization between key players. The CWC set ambitious goals and gained wide support from the international community since its entry into force in April 1997. Nevertheless, chemical activities related developments in the international arena dissolved the unified position that was expressed in the convention’s previous review conference of 2013. Today’s main challenges relate to Syria, Iran and Russia activities in the chemical sphere, as well to the structural limitations of the review process and the convention’s implementing body – The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The previous 2013 review conference concluded with a final document and with the states parties political declaration. The declaration expressed an unequivocal commitment for chemical weapons ban and the expected goals of the OPCW.  Despite this commitment, chemical weapons have been in use repeatedly since 2013,and some of the states’ declarations to the OPCW on their related chemical activities, a component of the CWC’s advanced verification mechanism, were not fully disclosed, and, hence less reliable. The U.S closing remarks in the 2013 CWC review conference, expressed disappointment from the political declaration’s vague text. The declaration did not address directly to the chemical weapons use in Syria and to the promotion of the United Nations Secretary-General’s investigation in this regard. The U.S remarks came to realize as a self-fulfilling prophecy when chemical weapons have been in use repeatedly, and particularly in Syria and Iraq. The Assad Regime in Syria, according to the U.S and European media, kept using chemical weapons even after declaring its stockpiles destruction in August 2014. Furthermore, recent mutual accusations between Iran and the U.S on violations of the CWC were making headlines just days before the beginning of the current review conference. These events join the two recent incidents of alleged Russian use of nerve agent (determined to be “Novichok”) in Amesbury and Salisbury, England, that have also raised the profile of breaking the non-use taboo of chemical weapons.

Addressing these developments in the current review conference requires to balance between dealing with noncompliance issues, as well as other core issues of dispute, and with the need for strengthening the CWC states parties’ cohesion, that involves the alleged violators. The first challenge of the current review conference, as seen in the U.S-Iran relations, for example, is when countries exploit the review conference platform as a mean to advance their broader agendas. In this case, the exploitation comes following the U.S sanctions renewal against Iran and the attempts to promote its political isolation. This challenge relates to a broader context when political tensions that do not necessarily relate to the context of the CWC leak to its review conferences. Bridging this gap, between promoting the goals of the convention and isolating the broader political context is a weak point of review conferences in general. This was also the case in the failure of the 2015 Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons review conference when the concluding statements of Egypt and the U.S were mutual accusations of exploiting the review process for advancing other political goals. Such events could create an opposition that prevents the ability to promote the convention’s future goals and risk its implementation. The exploitation challenge, highlights the structural limitations of the review conference, since phrasing the final document to the conference does not have the same legal binding standing as the convention itself. Not fulfilling the commitments under final documents usually do not include penalties or consider a violation of the convention, but could certainly erode the chemical weapons-ban regime over time.

The political gaps between the western bloc of the US and other western powers, to the Russian oppositional approach that gains the support of China, Iran, and Syria are also more prominent in this review cycle. One indication for it is the issue of the OPCW’s attribution mechanism, known as the Watchdog’s Initiative. Last week (21.11) the state parties rejected the Russia-China proposal to establish a group of experts to review the OPCW’s mandate of creating an organizational team that would be able to attribute blame to a chemical weapon use to a violator. So far, the OPWC could only determine if there was the use of chemical weapons without indicating specifically on the attacker. This development also reflects the balancing dilemma of the need for political compromises, while not achieving them can harm the effectiveness of the CWC implementation. States that oppose core issues, such as the Watchdog initiative, can undermine cohesion and the ability to reach a unified and unequivocal commitment to the convention. This situation damages the stability of the CWC since even when a final document and a political declaration are gaining consensus, they are phrased in a way that relates to the lowest common denominator, as was in the Syrian case in the 2013 conference, which lowers their value.

Despite the above-mentioned examples of the political challenges in the CWC review conferences framework, the foundations of the convention lay on the states parties’ ability to cooperate. More than one hundred episodes of chemical weapons use recorded in the past three years shows how actual the threat of chemical weapons is, and how global cooperation to deal with it is important. There are important goals for the CWC that would be achieved despite the parties’ political contradicting interests. Among these goals, are issues such as inspection and verification measures in countries that are characterized by political instability, updating the lists of restricted chemicals, physical protection on chemical facilities, scientific and technological developments that challenge the convention, and the threat of states and non-states actors using chemical weapons. These issues show not only the importance of the CWC in regulating chemical weapons abolishment, but they also highlight the risks that undermine the convention’s purpose.

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Defense

Beating The Drums Of War Against Iran And Pakistan

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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As countries continue their squabbles, their home the earth is going to hell in a handbasket.  A new review paper in Biological Conservation reports 40 percent of insect species are threatened with extinction.  Guess who pollinates our plants where we get our food?

All of which is of little concern to President Trump, who disdains science and experts of any kind.  His vice president has been at the Munich Security Conference where an awkward silence prevailed as he conveyed greetings from Trump and waited for the customary applause.  His speech, focused on hounding Iran, met with polite, muted applause.

Angela Merkel in contrast defended the Iran agreement (which the US has unilaterally abrogated) and talked of maintaining lines of communication without giving up gains already achieved.  Her ambit included Russia and Mr. Putin, and her critique of Trump and his policies received thunderous applause in what was seen as a striking rebuke to ‘America First’.  Some said it was one of her best and thoughtful speeches.

In India, it’s Kashmir again.  Poor Kashmiris.  They tried trusting Nehru and waited … and waited for the promised vote for self-determination; of course Pakistan’s headstrong responses did not help.  They tried peaceful demonstrations and received blinding and sometimes fatal shotgun pellets — not for them just tear gas or the famed Israeli rubber bullets.  What’s left but militancy for which Mr. Modi blames Pakistan his convenient scapegoat.  All too convenient with elections round the corner, he has the country awash in jingoism.  Communal assault often follows in this his tried-and-true election tactic.

Rahul Gandhi the jejune opposition leader is out of his depth as usual.  His only hope is for Mr. Modi to overplay his hand.  All of this despite a general dissatisfaction because the promised economic benefits for the majority have not materialized, and as cell phones multiply, people can actually see the extravagances of the rich.

Mr. Modi threatens to isolate Pakistan and Muhammad bin Salman signs projects and loans worth $20 billion — at the beginning of his visit to Pakistan, the figure touted was $10 billion.  As Theodore Roosevelt used to say, ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’ not the reverse.

A rational answer to the Indian subcontinent is a loose confederation of independent states in a cooperative scenario, accruing the benefits of free trade and the particular resources of individual members — not the copycat US ‘most favored nation status’ to be yanked like a toy from a recalcitrant child.  All this when Pakistan has just introduced the very short range Nasr low-yield nuclear-tipped missile designed to decimate a cold start attack.

Instead of the frenetic jumping up and down and undiplomatic meaningless threats, how about a calm and rational peace?

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A lie about an allegation of the IRGC’s support for terrorism

Sajad Abedi

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Recent attacks on the Revolutionary Guards can be viewed from two perspectives. The first perspective is historically and the second, in terms of the behavioral model of regional and sub-regional actors in the current pattern of Western-Asian regional order.

It seems that recent pressures on the Revolutionary Guards as a revolutionary entity are rooted in the fears of Washington and its allies from a revolutionary force. A force whose members go beyond the military equations or even beyond the logic of power in the region to survive the ideals of the revolution and defend oppressed nations.

History has clearly shown that Washington is afraid of IRGC. The force that presents figures such as the martyr Hojaji and a picture of him, while willingly and resolutely prepared for martyrdom, affects the world.

In the past three decades since the Revolutionary Guards have lived, the West has always been afraid of a force that has been inspired by soft power along with its hard power. It is the same force that can bring nations and quickly become a native force in different countries.

The White House knows well that if Hezbollah-Lebanon, Ansarullah-Yemen and many other popular forces were formed on the regional level, they all had the power to influence the pattern of the Revolutionary Guards. The dependence of the classical armies in different countries on the national government does not allow them to operate with flexibility at all times and places, and even if these operations are carried out people in other countries do not welcome the presence of an army that is alien to it.

Territorial frontiers, in terms of modern Islamic civilization, defend the borders of the Islamic Revolution, which are Islamic ideals. It is inevitable that, in the soft power, the IRGC has the power to help not only the oppressed people in Iraq and Syria, but also to meet the people in these countries.

Accordingly, over the past years, Washington has repeatedly tried to use various methods to weaken the popular position of the Revolutionary Guards and to prevent its increasing popularity in the region and beyond.

Soft power strategists in the United States who are well aware that the concept of power in the new age is not only the result of hard power and the soft power of the countries, have so far been attempting to deal with psychological or media methods To disrupt the Revolutionary Guards and scare the peoples of the region from the influence of the Revolutionary Guards. The propaganda included a Shia-based pseudo-propaganda, a lie about the IRGC’s anti-Semitic tendencies, an allegation of the IRGC’s support for terrorism, an illusion about the role of the IRGC in the development of the Persian Empire, and sometimes with numerous contradictory propositions. For example, while the Revolutionary Guards are falsely accused of stirring up ethnic or religious disputes and are being reduced to an ideological force, this rumor is spreading that the Iranian people’s budget is spending on the other people! At the same time, that is an allegation the IRGC want to expand and increase its dominance over Western Asia.

These media never tell their audience that the IRGC is finally the source of Iran’s resources to other countries, or vice versa, seeking to use other countries for the benefit of the Iranian people. In fact, they are not obliged to explain to themselves the obvious fact that unless a powerful force such as the Revolutionary Guards is acting simultaneously in the language of its nation, it is also considering developing the power of this nation.

But along with the historical roots of the Revolutionary Guard, regional realities must also be taken into account. Today, under the circumstances, the Revolutionary Guards are accused of developing ballistic missiles and supporting terrorism, in which Western-backed terrorists have been in the weakest position in the last decade. Unlike a decade ago, the United States is now forced to withdraw its troops from the region. London’s policies have failed to fill the United States in the region due to domestic problems, including the clashes with the European Union, and the Arab-American allies-Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The result of Iran’s resilience to its positions in the region, which is nothing but serious support for the oppressed nations, has caused Iranian regional rivals like Riyadh to seek to modify their behavior towards our country and to improve the areas for improving relations to provide with Iran. Under such circumstances, the Donald Trump administration has concluded that it has lost all its winning leaves to pressure the Revolutionary Guard, and now it cannot impose its power on the Revolutionary Guards even in the Persian-Gulf tensions.

Therefore, the government of Trump tries to launch a wave of economic pressure against this revolutionary institution along with negative propaganda against the IRGC and use this method to weaken the IRGC. However, the principle of the self-sufficiency of the Revolutionary Guards and the lack of dependence of this force on global capitalism has made any sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards ineffective and a scenario for compelling the IRGC to negotiate and retreat has failed.

In such a situation, it seems that maintaining internal cohesion in support of the Revolutionary Guard is the only hope for the people of the region to be able to overcome the domination of foreigners with the help of the soft and hard power of Iran, and to make deep changes in the region.

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Nasr Missile and Deterrence Stability of South Asia

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Pakistan has conducted successful test of short range surface to surface ballistic missile ‘Nasr’ on January 24th, 28th and 31st respectively, as part of the Army Strategic Forces Command training exercise, which included quad salvo on 24 January and single shots on 28 & 31 January, 2019. Quad salvo means that the four missiles were fired together from AR1A/A100-E Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) to enhance the operational efficiency of Army Strategic force Command. While single shots means one missile was fired from the vehicle. The aimed of letter tests were for testing in flight maneuverability, including the end flight maneuverability. Nasr has shoot and scoot attributes which mean that the system has a capability of firing and moving away quickly to avoid counter targeting which would be contributing to the weapon’s survivability.The speed and low apogee of the Hatf-IX missile would make it difficult to intercept by all the Indian existing Ballistic Missile Defence system and could defeat S-400 air defence system which is in process.

As South Asia region is consider unstable because of ongoing hostility between India and Pakistan. Though hostility between both states is unending but nuclear weapons have brought stability to a great extent. As India decided to take the nuclear weapons route, Pakistan followed because through nuclear weapons Pakistan successfully neutralized Indian conventional superiority.

In South Asia, security competition between India and Pakistan has been characterised by an action-reaction spiral. Pakistan took the path of nuclear weapons development in order to create balance against militarily superior India. In 2004, India adopted aggressive military doctrine, Pakistan rationally responded by developing Short Range Ballistic Missile Nasr which further strengthen the existing deterrence equation of the region. As Pakistan is not able economically to compete India conventionally, so it always took necessitating reactionary steps to maintain deterrence stability of South Asia.

The purpose of the development of Nasr is defensive because Pakistan would use it to secure its border from Indian conventional aggression. Pakistan Short Range Ballistic Missile Nasr has been criticized by international community that it would increase arms race in South Asia.  But Pakistan developed Nasr to overcome the growing threats from the Indian offensive military doctrine. Cold Start Doctrine forces Pakistan to increase its dependence on nuclear arsenals. General Bipin acknowledged CSD in 2017, was followed by Pakistan’s Nasr test by improving its range from 60 to 70 km which puts cold water on Cold Start. Before official acknowledgement of CSD, Pakistan did not conduct any training tests of Nasr. Pakistan inducted the Nasr missile in its strategic arsenal in 2017and its first training launch was held in July 2017 after the official acknowledgment of CSD from Indian side,  shows that Pakistan developed Nasr only to deter India from initiating a conventional assault against Pakistan. Pakistan does not want to indulge in an arms race rather react to those Indian developments which are threatening its sovereignty. This weapon system has augmented Full Spectrum Deterrence in line with Credible Minimum Deterrence, which means that Pakistan would deter conventional forces (India) by employing nuclear deterrence. Pakistan adopted assertive command and control system on Nasr which means it is centrally controlled which minimize the chances of accidental or unauthorized use.

The latest series of Nasr training tests were response to General Bipin10th January 2019, statement, that the military is launching war games next month to test ‘structures geared towards sudden and swift offensives into enemy territory by Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs). These new structures will be “validated” in military exercises on the ground in May, 2019. As IBGs are the center of Indian offensive military doctrine, which involves initiating rapid military offence from multiple fronts by exploiting the element of surprise and leaving Pakistan with neither the time to respond nor the defensive resources to stop those multiple attacks. Nasr tests are in response to this Indian military announcement as Pakistan solely developed Short Range Ballistic Missile Nasr to deter India from initiating conventional conflict. The recent Nasr tests have frightened Indian commanders because of its capability to defeat all Indian existing Ballistic Missile Defence systems and S-400 air defence system. Hence, deterrence is often in the minds of adversary. As long as Indian leaders continue to be deterred by Nasr, it will continue to be effective.

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