Due to a number of limitations the THAAD missile defense system doesn’t directly pose a major risk to Russia and China. However, Moscow and Beijing still see a potential threat, which does not come from the missiles but the system’s radars that would allow U.S. to monitor launches of Russian and Chinese intercontinental missiles. Despite the U.S. and South Korea repeatedly claiming that THAAD poses no threats to China or Russia, and is being deployed to defend the South from North Korean missile launches, Moscow and Beijing still harbor serious concerns about the deployment.
Hezbollah has acquired about 8 advanced Russian-made strategic naval missiles that could change the balance of power in the Middle East. According to Israeli YediothAhronoth newspaper, western intelligence agencies have expressed “grave concerns” that Hezbollah has acquired Yakhont missiles, also known as Onyx, a Russian supersonic anti-ship cruise weapon that is regarded as the naval equivalent of the antiaircraft S-300. These missiles can be fired from the shore and have a range of up to 300 kilometers. “Even the most advanced missile interception systems are unable to effectively intercept it”, said the reports.
Hizbullah has been able to obtain strategic naval capabilities that could threaten Israel during any upcoming war, Israeli reports have said. It is believed that Hizbullah was able to obtain around eight P-800 Onyx shore-to-sea missiles, also known in export markets as Yakhont, the reports said. The party could use the Onyx missiles to “significantly threaten the Israeli Navy, the US Sixth Fleet and civilian vessels in the Mediterranean, as well as Israel’s newly built oil and gas rigs,” Israeli intelligence officials stated. “The Russian anti-ship Yakhont missile can be fired from the shore and has a range of up to 300 kilometers. Even the most advanced missile interception systems are unable to effectively intercept it”, said the reports.
Yemeni civilians and their properties were targeted by US-Saudi aggression fighter jets in many provinces. In Sa’ada province saudi aggression missiles fired on citizens’ houses and two strikes were waged on various areas of the province. In Taiz province a woman was killed by a Saudi-paid mercenary sniper and another fighter jets were launched in Hejjah province. Also in Mareb province civilians houses were targeted by Saudi-paid mercenary artillery. Moreover a strike was launched in Jzan province and other three strikes hit Najran province.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has condemned in the strongest terms Yemen’s Houthi rebels, backed by the militias of deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh for targeting the holy city of Makkah with a ballistic missile. The executive committee of the OIC held an emergency ministerial meeting on Saturday to discuss the serious developments represented by the launching of the missile by the Houthi-Saleh militias. The meeting denounced the rebels and those who provide them with arms including rockets and missiles to target Makkah. The meeting termed it an act of aggression against the holy sites in Saudi Arabia, “which is a provocation for world Muslims and evidence of their refusal to comply with the international community and its demands.”
North Korea has taken another step towards one of its priority objectives: to create an inter-continental missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and hit accurately the enemy, even thousands of kilometers away.
In the last hours in fact, the state media have spread the news that North Korea has successfully tested a new solid-fuel engine that can significantly increase the power of its missile arsenal. The test is part of a larger project, aimed at developing a long-range ballistic missile (ICBM, InterContinental Ballistic Missile), which appears to progress rapidly despite UN sanctions and the numerous warnings issued by South Korea.
After the recent nuclear tests in January, North Korea, therefore, continues to move recklessly on the ridge that divides the bellicose rhetoric against the enemies of the South and the United States and the actual developments in terms of military technology.
The national news agency, KCNA, has proudly hailed the success of the new test, which “has helped boost the power of ballistic rockets,” adding that North Korean engineers will soon be able to test new weapons “capable of striking mercilessly hostile forces “.
Even President Kim Yong-Un attended the demonstration launch, celebrating immediately its success. “This is a historic and memorable day,” he said in front of the microphones and notebooks of regime’s information.
The test actually strengthens the position of Pyongyang after that last week, according to reports by local media, launch and re-entry into the atmosphere of a ballistic missile, that could sooner or later be equipped to carry a miniaturized nuclear warhead, have been tested successfully.
The military tests, once again, was alternated by the rhetoric of provocation. On Wednesday the North has threatened to strike the presidential office of the South with a battery of large caliber rockets, adding that special army units are ready to go into action. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has decided to answer to the attempt at intimidation, ordering to increase the alert level and asking the army to be ready to respond to the “reckless provocations” by Pyongyang.
The tension on the Korean Peninsula therefore backs to rise dangerously, in a time when the Northern regime feels caught between the new sanctions imposed by the UN after the last nuclear tests, and joint military drills that the South and the US are conducting, as every year, at a short distance.
Drills that obviously alarmed Pyongyang, which considers them as “nuclear war moves” to which it must respond decisively.
Despite progress in terms of solid fuel engines, experts believe that North Korea will not be able, for many years, to threaten the United States with ICBMs. Probably part of the verbal and propagandistic escalation of Pyongyang can be connected to internal reasons. Soon it should be held the first congress of the Workers Party of North Korea after 35 years and the current leadership, represented by President Kim Yong-Un, the last of the Kim’s dynasty, needs to bring to the table some important success on the military field to reassert its legitimacy as supreme leader.
On 14 February, the images captured by a satellite, showed the presence of new military installations on a small island in the Paracels archipelago in the South China Sea, occupied by China and claimed by its neighbors, particularly Taiwan and Vietnam. The island, once known as Woody on nautical charts, was annexed by Beijing in 1956 under the name of Yongxing.
It is probably two HQ-9 batteries, able to arm eight surface-to-air missiles each, with a range which experts estimate at about 200 kilometers, capable of hitting aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic. Their deployment further exacerbates the tension along the already troubled waters of the South China Sea, the theater for several years of a territorial dispute on a large scale, with major political, strategic and economic implications, in which all the powers of the region are involved, including Japan, and the United States, determined to defend its freedom of military and commercial shipping in the area and to limit the expansionist ambitions of Beijing.
The revelation, released yesterday by the Taiwanese authorities, has angered the Chinese who, at first, have thundered against the lies of the pro-Western propaganda, and subsequently reaffirmed their right to install weapons of “self-defense” on islands inhabited by Chinese civil and military personnel, “according to international law”.
The major concern for the Americans and their allies in the area, is that Beijing brings forward a unilateral project of militarization in the region, strengthening, officially for defensive purposes, a growing number of islands and neo-artificial islands, made ex- novo by Chinese engineers through massive drainage of the sandy ocean floor, there where once there were only semi-submerged sections of the reef.
The Yongxing island in fact already have an airstrip and, in November 2015, the satellites captured the image of a Chinese military jet landed on the outpost. The missiles deployment, according to experts interviewed by the BBC, may be a warning addressed to Vietnam, which continues to advance their claims on the archipelago, and to United States, after that, in January, an American missile destroyer sailed close to the island’s shores.
For now, Beijing has avoided to deploy military installations on the disputed islands of the Spratly archipelago, far away from the Chinese territorial waters and nestled between Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, who are claiming themselves its possess. If the escalation would go so far south, Chinese action would be perceived not as a simple provocation but as an explicit act of hostility, with consequences difficult to predict.
The dispute on the South China Sea was also addressed during the summit just concluded in California, between the United States and the ASEAN countries, the organization of the Southeast Asia states. Just yesterday, President Obama, concluding the meeting, reiterated the US call to stop any further “claim, new construction and militarization”, indirectly referring to Chinese activities in the area. Obama also said the US will continue ” will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows” adding that the United States will provide their support to allies in the region so that they can do the same. A support that has been explicitly called for by the Vietnamese Prime Minister during the summit. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has appealed directly to Obama to ask that the US has ” has a stronger voice and more practical and more efficient” to achieve the interruption of all initiatives aimed at changing the status quo, clearly referring to China and its constructive activities on the Spratly archipelago.
The purpose of the summit was to find new common solutions to counter Beijing’s expansionism in the South China Sea and preserve the right to free navigation, a primary geopolitical interest for the United States in that part of the world. China’s choice to deploy a missile battery on the island of Yongxing in conjunction with the US-ASEAN summit is obviously not random and tends to reiterate Beijing’s intention to dispose as they please of the territories under its control.
For Americans and its allies a military escalation, although on a minor scale, has the flavor of provocation. A US official said to the microphones of CNN that the deployment of the missiles, which occurred during the summit, was a ” further demonstration of China’s attempt to unilaterally change the status quo” in the South China Sea. On the same line is Japan, that by the mouth of Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide has branded as unacceptable the initiative of Beijing.
The dispute looks set to exacerbate, especially if China decides to proceed with the creation of military infrastructure on the islands under its control, going further south. Another variable in play concerns the energy and mineral resources that could hide under coral beds. Geological surveys and drilling have not started yet, at least officially, but the discovery of oil or natural gas could further jeopardize the relations between the powers bordering on that slice of ocean.