The Growing Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

MIT Corp.The MIT Corporation is the manufacturer of the Aerostat missile. Composite image showing MIT’s headquarters in Moscow and one of its road-mobile ICBMs. (Source)

Aerostat: a Russian long-range anti-ballistic missile system with possible counterspace capabilities

by Bart Hendrickx
Monday, October 11, 2021

Russia has been working for several years on a long-range anti-ballistic missile system named Aerostat. The fact that it is being developed by the country’s sole manufacturer of solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles suggests that it may very well have a range allowing it to double as a counterspace system. The oddly named ABM system (“aerostat” is a general term for unpowered balloons and airships) has never been mentioned in the Russian press or openly discussed by Russian military analysts, but its existence and basic design features can be determined through open-source intelligence.

There has been much debate over whether Nudol is primarily an anti-missile system with a complementary counterspace role or vice versa.

Aerostat has shown up in a number of openly accessible official documents, the first being the 2013 annual report of the Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defense Corporation, established in 2002 to unify dozens of companies producing missiles, anti-aircraft systems, radars, naval artillery, and other systems.[1] As can be learned from other publicly available documents, Almaz-Antey was assigned prime contractor for the project by the Ministry of Defense on July 12, 2013. A court document published last July literally describes the purpose of the July 2013 contract as “the development of a long-range intercept complex for the anti-missile defense of the Russian Federation in the period 2013-2018” and identifies the missile as 106T6.[2] Aerostat is not the first such long-range ABM system developed under the supervision of Almaz-Antey. Another one, named Nudol, has been undergoing test flights for several years and is likely seen primarily as a direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon.

Nudol

Nudol (also known as 14Ts033) is named after a small place some 100 kilometers northwest of Moscow that was one of the deployment sites for the long-range missiles of Moscow’s former A-35M missile defense system. Its main element is a road-mobile solid-fuel rocket called 14A042, developed by OKB Novator in Yekaterinburg. This company belongs to Almaz-Antey and has produced a wide range of surface-to-air and cruise missiles. US intelligence data indicate that the 14A042 missile has flown at least ten test flights from the Plesetsk launch site in northwestern Russia since 2014, but no targets seem to have been involved in any of those.

There has been much debate over whether Nudol is primarily an anti-missile system with a complementary counterspace role or vice versa. US intelligence considers it a direct-ascent anti-satellite system, as is clear from statements placed on the website of US Space Command following the latest two Nudol tests in April and December 2020.[3] It has also been characterized as an anti-satellite system by at least two Russian officials, namely the deputy head of a Ministry of Defense research institute and Russia’s deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov.[4] Another factor pointing in the direction of an ASAT role for the 14A042 missile is that the 14A designators are typically used for space launch vehicles (for instance, 14A14 is the Soyuz-2 rocket.) 14A042 is indeed termed a “rocket for space-related purposes” in two official documents that outline safety precautions that need to be taken when the rockets fly over the Nenets Autonomous District east of Plesetsk.[5] Moreover, one court document mentions communications systems needed to connect Nudol with the headquarters of Russia’s space surveillance network in Noginsk-9 (code-named 3006M.)[6]

An analysis of online procurement documents shows that Almaz-Antey was named prime contractor for the project by the Ministry of Defense on August 10, 2009, and awarded a contract to OKB Novator for the development of the 14A042 rocket on the same day. For some reason, Almaz-Antey received a new contract for the project on April 10, 2015.[7]

While OKB Novator is responsible for integrating the rocket, the individual stages are manufactured by NPO Iskra in Perm. The designators 14D807 and 14D809 seen in some documents are likely the ones used for the first and second stage.[8] Nudol appears to have a kinetic kill vehicle that contains a “multispectral electro-optical homing head” (MOEGSN or 14Sh129) developed by KB Tochmash.[9] The State Institute of Applied Optics (GIPO) supplies what is called a “combined frameless television/infrared channel” for 14Sh129.[10] This part of the payload, apparently named TTPS, is presumably described in several technical articles published by GIPO, where the spectral ranges are given as 0.4–0.7 microns (visible) and 3.0–5.0 microns (mid-infrared.)[11] Both KB Tochmash and GIPO also have a role in the air-launched Burevestnik ASAT system.

Aerostat’s organizational background

Almaz-Antey’s main subcontractor for Aerostat is the MIT Corporation (MIT standing for “Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology”), which specializes in solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles. Unlike OKB Novator, it is part of the Roscosmos State Corporation and is a newcomer to the field of anti-ballistic missile defense.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union, the MIT Corporation fielded the Topol-M, YARS, and Bulava ICBMs (the latter a submarine-launched missile.) In the 1990s, it also converted Soviet-era Topol ICBMs into space launch vehicles called Start and Start-1, which were used to launch a number of small satellites into low Earth orbit between 1993 and 2006. The company is also working on the solid-fuel emergency escape system for Russia’s new piloted spacecraft Oryol.

Other subcontractors that can be identified from online sources are:

– KB Tochmash and GIPO: the two companies play the same role as in Nudol, providing the electro-optical system of the missile’s homing head. Actually, some procurement documents indicate that the system is identical or at least very similar to the MOEGSN/14Sh129 system carried by Nudol’s 14A042 rocket.[12] It also includes a diode-pumped laser rangefinder.[13] KB Tochmash has also built laser rangefinders for some of its surface-to-air missiles and several years ago was planning to deliver a laser rangefinder “for spacecraft dockings” to an unidentified foreign partner, most likely China.[14]

– NPTsAP imeni N.A. Pilyugina (further referred to here as the Pilyugin Center): this company produces guidance and control systems for launch vehicles and most likely performs the same task for Aerostat. It has built a test stand called Aerostat that is almost certainly intended for the project.[15]

– GOKB Prozhektor: a company belonging to the MIT Corporation that builds autonomous power supply systems for the corporation’s ICBMs. Aerostat is listed among other MIT Corporation missiles in two of the company’s annual reports.[16]

– PAO Radiofizika: a company under Almaz-Antey, involved among other things in building ground-based radar systems that provide targeting data for anti-missile systems. Aerostat is mentioned in PAO Radiofizika’s annual reports for 2018 and 2019 and in a book dedicated to the company’s 55th anniversary. The 2020 annual report mentions work related to “Product 103T6”, an index similar to 106T6. It is not clear if this is yet another missile or whether there is a typo in one of the two indexes.[17]

– GosNIIAS (State Research Institute of Aviation Systems): this appears to build one or more test stands for Aerostat, including one used to simulate the infrared background against which the missile’s homing head will have to track its targets.[18]

– АО VIKor: a company that provides technical support and consulting for various military projects. Its website mentions work done in 2019 on research projects called Aerostat-Ts-MIT and Aerostat-S-MIT-Nadyozhnost (the latter word meaning “reliability”).[19]

Technical features

Aerostat may have been discussed in an article written by Almaz-Antey’s deputy general director Pavel Sozinov in a 2017 issue of the corporation’s quarterly journal.[20] It deals with mathematical modeling techniques to simulate the performance of various “air and space defense systems.” One of those is literally called “an advanced long-range intercept complex,” with Sozinov hinting that it has a range considerably exceeding that of existing systems. The simulations were needed to “justify technical decisions made to develop the system” and “determine its combat efficiency.” It can be learned from the article that its targets will be both “complex ballistic targets” (a term usually used for multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) and satellites (included in the models were “calculations of satellite orbits” as well as data provided by the ground-based space surveillance network.) It cannot be ruled out that Sozinov was writing about Nudol, but he portrayed the research as being linked to a future system, whereas Nudol was already making test flights at the time of writing.

SozinovPavel Sozinov. (Source)

The computer models simulated the operation of a “central radar complex” to acquire and track the targets and benefited from experience gathered with a mobile radar system named Demonstrator. This was a truck-mounted phased array radar first demonstrated at various air shows in 2013–2014 and described at the time by PAO Radiofizika’s general director Boris Levitan as a prototype of bigger radar stations needed for space surveillance (although it could also be used for detecting airborne targets.)[21]

What can be concluded from the available information is that Aerostat’s 106T6 rocket is probably a multistage solid-fuel launch vehicle that inherits elements from one or more of the MIT Corporation’s ICBMs.

The “central radar complex” could be the Don-2 battle management radar currently used by Moscow’s A-135 anti-ballistic missile system or another one known as 14Ts031 or Object 0746-M that is situated near Chekhov, some 60 kilometers southwest of Moscow. This is a modified version of the Dunai-3U radar complex originally built for the earlier A-35M missile defense system and consists of a transmitting and a receiving antenna separated by about three kilometers. In documentation it is called “a specialized space surveillance radar for the detection and monitoring of small-size space objects”. PAO Radiofizika has been closely involved in modernizing the radar complex since early last decade under a project called Razvyazka. Although the radar system has usually been linked to Nudol, it could obviously support Aerostat as well. According to a brochure distributed by PAO Radiofizika at the recent MAKS-2021 aerospace show near Moscow, the modernization of the radar complex has been completed and the main purpose of the P-band phased array radar is to catalog space objects and detect satellites in high orbits.[22]

radar complexThe receiving antenna of the 14Ts031 radar complex is seen on the right side of this image taken from orbit in June 2020. Source: Google Earth.
radarGrainy ground-based picture of the receiving antenna. (Source)

In the same article, Sozinov also discussed techniques to simulate the flight of a multistage solid-fuel rocket carrying a “multispectral electro-optical homing head” (possibly the MOEGSN/14Sh129 system jointly developed by KB Tochmash and GIPO.) He didn’t specifically link the rocket to the “long-range intercept complex,” but the computer models took into account Earth limb background effects, suggesting the rocket is designed to operate outside the Earth’s atmosphere. It has a third stage whose flight path can be corrected using tracking information on the target and its homing head is described as a “two-dimensional tracking system with independent control for each channel” needed to determine the angular velocity of the line of sight. Sozinov’s description of this system is virtually copied and pasted in a paper presented in 2018 by a researcher of the Pilyugin Center (a subcontractor for Aerostat) who has also co-authored several articles as well as a patent on a method to control the thrust of a solid-fuel upper stage.[23] Presumably, targeting data obtained by the sensors will be used by the rocket’s guidance and control system to regulate the upper stage’s thrust.

The link with Aerostat is further supported by the fact that the specific Russian term used for “upper stage” in one of these Pilyugin Center articles (dovodochnaya stupen’, sounding somewhat similar to “kick stage” in English) is seen virtually only in publications of the MIT Corporation. Also, one of the co-researchers, Gennadiy Rumyantsev, is a veteran of the Pilyugin Center who was involved in developing the guidance and control system for the MIT Corporation’s Start launch vehicles back in the 1990s.[24]

These rockets, derived from the Topol ICBM and launched from transporter erector launchers, came in four-stage and five-stage configurations (called Start-1 and Start respectively), with both carrying an additional low-thrust kick stage to deliver the payloads to their final orbits (so strictly speaking they were five-stage and six-stage rockets.) The kick stage had а thrust control system as well as a gas reaction control system to ensure accurate orbital injection of the satellites. In earlier publications, Rumyantsev has pointed out that such kick stages can be used either as an ICBM post-boost stage to deploy nuclear warheads or as the upper stage of a space launch vehicle.[25] Most likely, exactly the same type of stage could be modified to guide an exoatmospheric kill vehicle to its target.

radarSchematic representation of the Start launch vehicle’s “kick stage”. A similar stage may serve as the basis for Aerostat’s kinetic kill vehicle. (Source)

The MIT Corporation has recently proposed to revive the Start project using decommissioned Topol ICBMs, at least several dozens of which are left.[26] The renewed interest in Start is also reflected by a handful of patents of the MIT Corporation that have appeared online in recent years.[27] MIT has also studied modified versions of solid-fuel upper stages [28]. Although impossible to prove, it is tempting to believe that these proposals at least partly draw on work done as part of Aerostat since 2013.

Start-1The Start-1 rocket. Source: MIT Corporation.

Aside from Sozinov’s 2017 article, Almaz-Antey has published two other articles that may be related to Aerostat. One discusses computer simulations of the launch of a “multistage rocket” which “exits the Earth’s atmosphere” and uses both on-board sensors and ground-based radar systems to detect and track its targets. One of its authors has also written an article on modeling the Earth limb’s infrared background radiation as seen by “space-based electro-optical systems.”[29] Considering Almaz-Antey’s background, the research hardly had anything to do with a civilian space project.

There can be little doubt that Russia considers counterspace weapons an integral part of this system, which is often depicted as being targeted against “air-based and space-based attack systems”. From the Russian perspective, one such potential space-based attack system is the US Air Force’s X-37B spaceplane.

What can be concluded from the available information is that Aerostat’s 106T6 rocket is probably a multistage solid-fuel launch vehicle that inherits elements from one or more of the MIT Corporation’s ICBMs (Topol-M, YARS, Bulava, or possibly a lightweight version of YARS known as Rubezh.) Judging by Sozinov’s article, it may use the first two stages of an existing ICBM topped by an exoatmospheric kill vehicle consisting of a solid-fuel “kick stage” (the “third stage” mentioned by Sozinov) and a homing system that relies on data fed by ground-based radars and an on-board visible/infrared sensor.

Situating Aerostat in the Russian ABM program

So where does Aerostat fit in Russia’s anti-ballistic missile program? In May 2016, MIT Corporation general director Yuri Solomonov acknowledged his company’s leading role in a missile defense project, but did not provide additional details other than calling it analogous to the American Aegis system.[30] Aegis is the Navy component of the US missile defense system and is geared toward defending against short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their midcourse phase. It also has a limited counterspace capability, which was demonstrated in 2008 when an Aegis Standard Missile-3 was used to destroy a derelict US reconnaissance satellite to prevent it from re-entering the atmosphere in one piece and possibly causing harm to people on the ground (or that, at least, was the official explanation.) While Aegis is primarily a sea-based system, it also has a land-based component (Aegis Ashore) which began deployment in Eastern Europe in 2016. This has drawn strong criticism from Russia, which considers it a breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, arguing Aegis Ashore can also be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles against targets on Russian territory.

Тhe evidence presented above is not consistent with Aerostat being a theater missile defense system like Aegis. Presumably, Solomonov was referring to Aegis as a well-known example of a US missile defense system rather than meaning to say MIT’s missile defense system is in the same category.

SolomonovMIT Corporation general director Yuri Solomonov. (Source)

Protection against theater missiles is currently provided by the S-300 and S-400 air defense systems. The only ABM system capable of intercepting ICBMs is A-135, deployed around Moscow to intercept incoming warheads targeting the city and its surrounding areas. This was declared operational in 1995 and is the successor to the original A-35 system deployed in the 1970s in compliance with the 1972 ABM Treaty (which limited both the US and the Soviet Union to having only one ABM site, but was abandoned by the US in 2002.) Currently, A-135’s main elements are the Don-2N battle management phased array radar and several dozen short-range 53T6 (NATO reporting name “Gazelle”) endoatmospheric nuclear-tipped missiles developed by OKB Novator. Also part of A-135 was 51T6 (NATO reporting name “Gorgon”), a long-range nuclear-tipped exoatmospheric missile, which has now been retired.

In 2014, Almaz-Antey’s Pavel Sozinov said that Russia’s missile defense system was being considerably upgraded and would comprise equivalents of America’s THAAD and GMD systems. THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is intended to intercept short- and medium-range missiles at the end of the midcourse stage and in the terminal stage of flight. GMD (Ground-Based Midcourse Defense) is designed to counter ICBMs in the midcourse stage. According to Sozinov, the THAAD-type system would target medium-range ballistic missiles and have a limited capability against ICBMs as well. The other system would be “somewhat similar to GMD”, but would be mobile and have a “higher intercept efficiency.” [31] In 2017, the chief designer of Russia’s missile early warning system, Sergey Boyev, declared that a “multi-layered national missile defense system” would be deployed by 2025, calling it a response to the “direct threat” posed by the US Aegis Ashore missiles deployed in Eastern Europe.[32]

There can be little doubt that Russia considers counterspace weapons an integral part of this system, which is often depicted as being targeted against “air-based and space-based attack systems”. From the Russian perspective, one such potential space-based attack system is the US Air Force’s X-37B spaceplane, which, according to Sozinov, could carry up to three warheads into space and then deliver them to their targets after evading early warning systems.[33] Even President Vladimir Putin himself has alluded to the offensive potential of the X-37B, saying that “re-usable shuttle type spacecraft” can give the US an edge in the militarization of space and that the deployment of what he called “combat complexes” in orbit poses a greater threat to world security than that of medium-range missiles in Europe[34]. In 2017, Sozinov acknowledged Almaz-Antey’s involvement in the development of counterspace weapons, more particularly electronic warfare systems to be used against radar reconnaissance, optical reconnaissance, and communications satellites, as well as systems for “the direct functional destruction of elements deployed in orbit,” an apparent reference to kinetic ASAT weapons.[35]

X-37BThe US Air Force X-37B is seen by Russia as a potential “space-based attack system”. Source: USAF.

What Sozinov called “the Russian THAAD” appears to be the S-500 system (also known as Prometey and Triumfator-M). As explained by Sergey Surovikin, the commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, the S-500 system is aimed against both “aerodynamic targets” (including drones and hypersonic vehicles) and “ballistic targets.” Its main goal, he said, is to destroy medium-range ballistic missiles, but if needed it can also intercept ICBM-launched warheads in the terminal stage. He added that, in the future, it will also be able to destroy low orbiting satellites and “space-based attack systems.”[36] Little has been revealed about S-500, but available information suggests that it includes the 40N6M missile (with a reported range of 400 kilometers) for use against aircraft and cruise missiles and the more powerful 77N6-N and 77N6-N1 (with an estimated range of 500–600 kilometers) to counter ballistic missiles and satellites. All these missiles are products of MKB Fakel.

If used in an ASAT capacity, Aerostat should have a range considerably higher than that of Nudol and, hence, be capable of taking out satellites in higher orbits.

The “Russian GMD” is most likely the upgraded Moscow ABM system known as A-235. Work on this began back in 1991 under the strange code-name “Samolyot-M” (“samolyot” means “aircraft”), but progress has been very slow. The short-range component of A-235 appears to be an improved variant of OKB Novator’s 53T6 missile called 53T6M, which has been making test flights from the Sary-Shagan test range in Kazakhstan since early last decade. The long-range component, the replacement for the decommissioned 51T6, has long been rumored to be Nudol, with numerous sources (including Wikipedia) going as far as claiming that Nudol actually is another name for the entire A-235 system (which is clearly not the case.) In reality, there is no convincing documentary evidence that Nudol will become part of A-235.

The index used for Aerostat’s missile (106T6 or possibly 103T6, the same nomenclature as 53T6 and 51T6) does point to it being a future element of A-235. It would have several advantages over 51T6. Likely having a longer range, it would be able to intercept ICBMs earlier in the midcourse phase than has been possible so far. Rather than being installed in silos, it should be mobile (the MIT Corporation’s ICBMs can be launched from transporter erector launchers) and its advanced homing system should allow it to kinetically destroy its targets instead of disabling them by detonating a nuclear warhead in their vicinity.

Nudol’s place in all this remains uncertain (its exact range is unknown). Possibly, A-235 will be a three-tier system with short-range missiles (53T6M), medium-range missiles (Nudol/14A042) and long-range missiles (Aerostat/106T6). Original plans formulated for A-235 in the 1990s did in fact call for such a three-tier system. It is also possible that Nudol is a specialized ASAT system with no anti-missile role at all (the 14A042 index of the Nudol missile is not indicative of it being part of A-235).

Possible counterspace role

So is Aerostat designed to attack satellites as well? If Sozinov was writing about Aerostat in his 2017 article, then it would appear it is. The fact that Aerostat and Nudol seem to share the same tracking sensors may also point in that direction. If used in an ASAT capacity, Aerostat should have a range considerably higher than that of Nudol and, hence, be capable of taking out satellites in higher orbits. In the absence of more specific information on the design, it is difficult to estimate exactly how much higher.

As a rule of thumb, the apogee that a ballistic missile can reach when launched vertically is approximately one half of its maximum horizontal range.[37] Therefore, a missile like Topol, which has a horizontal range of around 11,000 kilometers, would be able to reach a maximum altitude of roughly 5,500 kilometers. By replacing the nuclear warheads with a much lighter kinetic kill vehicle and adding one or more stages (as done on the Start rockets), that ceiling can be significantly increased. Recall that China conducted a high-altitude missile test in May 2013 that was officially billed as a scientific sounding rocket mission, but was later assessed by the Pentagon to have been a possible “test of technologies with a counterpace mission in geosynchronous orbit.”

However, it is highly questionable that Aerostat would be able to reach such altitudes or even those used by America’s GPS/Navstar navigation satellites (around 20,000 kilometers.) Moreover, it would take hours for a direct-ascent ASAT weapon to reach such targets, giving them ample time to perform evasive maneuvers. A more efficient way of disabling satellites in such orbits is by using electronic warfare systems, several of which are known to have been deployed by Russia. Any other US military satellites that could be worthwhile targets for anti-satellite systems orbit the Earth no higher than about 1,000 kilometers, more specifically the KH-11 optical reconnaissance satellites, the X-37B spaceplanes, the Onyx (Lacrosse) and Topaz radar reconnaissance satellites, and the NOSS-3/Intruder ocean reconnaissance satellites. Also added to the list could be a series of European military observation satellites. All of these would likely fall within the range of Aerostat.

Future tests of Aerostat may be complicated by the fact that Russia’s main test range for anti-missile systems (Sary-Shagan) is located in neighboring Kazakhstan.

In short, within several years Russia may possess as many as three anti-missile systems that could double as direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons (S-500, Nudol and Aerostat), whatever the rationale behind that may be. That goal has, in fact, been officially acknowledged for S-500 and Nudol, with the latter possibly even being a dedicated ASAT system. In addition to those, Russia probably already has operational ground-based electronic warfare and laser systems for counterspace purposes and is also working on co-orbital ASAT systems, which already seem to have made test flights under the Burevestnik and Nivelir projects.[38]

Project status

Some insight into the original test schedule for Aerostat is provided by the earlier mentioned court document published this July. The July 2013 contract between the Ministry of Defense and Almaz-Antey and later supplements to the contract called for finishing the preliminary design by November 2014 and conducting a “live experiment” in October 2017. So-called “preliminary tests” were to be completed by November 2020 and followed by “state tests,” after which the system was to be declared ready for serial production in November 2021.

“Preliminary tests” and “state tests” are terms inherited from the Soviet days denoting the test phases that a military product has to go through before it is declared operational. “Preliminary tests” are defined as tests needed to determine if experimental versions of a military product meet technical specifications. “State tests” are needed to establish whether the product meets technical requirements “in conditions as close as possible to those experienced in the field” and to decide whether it can be approved for operational use and serial production.

According to the document, the “live experiment” was eventually carried out on December 26, 2017. No further details are given, but on that day Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces launched a Soviet-era Topol ICBM on a test flight from the Kapustin Yar test range near Volgograd (most likely toward the Sary-Shagan range in Kazakhstan.) In a statement released the same day, the Ministry of Defense announced the flight was designed to test new ballistic missile defense countermeasures.[39] The same goal has also been reported for other Topol test flights from Kapustin Yar and was not unique to this mission. In this particular case, the test may have been aimed at testing ways of evading countermeasures taken by the enemy to prevent its missiles from being intercepted by ABM missiles. The fact that the Aerostat-related test was carried out with a Topol missile does not at all imply that Aerostat itself will also be based on Topol. The aging Topol missiles are used to demonstrate technology for newer ICBMs.

TopolLaunch of a Topol missile. (Source)

The court document does not shed any light on further technical progress made in the Aerostat project after the December 2017 test. The subject of the court case was a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Defense against Almaz-Antey for delays in the “live experiment” and the delivery of design documentation and software for the project (with the MIT Corporation mentioned only as a third party.) The court also granted a request from the Ministry of Defense to terminate the July 2013 contract, but that does not necessarily mean that the project has been canceled. The contract covered work on Aerostat in the 2013–2018 period and its official termination may have been no more than a bureaucratic move. In fact, procurement documents show that the Ministry of Defense signed a new contract with Almaz-Antey for Aerostat on April 26, 2018 and further work seems to have taken place only under that contract. A similar pattern was seen in the Nudol project, where the government contract with Almaz-Antey was renewed after six years.

The work known to have been performed under the new contract does carry the label “NIR”, which is Russian short for the research phase of a project that precedes actual systems development (referred to as “OKR”.) This may indicate that at least some systems have encountered technical problems that have forced designers back to the drawing boards.

Future tests of Aerostat may be complicated by the fact that Russia’s main test range for anti-missile systems (Sary-Shagan) is located in neighboring Kazakhstan. One anonymous “highly-placed source” in the Russian defense industry told a Russian news outlet in June last year that this is causing problems for tests of long-range air and missile defense systems, particularly S-500. To some extent, the source said, this also applied to Nudol, although the main stumbling block for Nudol were “some unresolved technical issues” that were expected to keep it from entering combat duty until 2021 “at the earliest.”[40] Still, if Nudol and Aerostat have a hit-to-kill capability, that likely would have to be demonstrated before they are declared operational. Russia may prefer to do that using ballistic targets rather than orbiting satellites, considering the vast amounts of space debris that would be generated by such tests. Since it uses the same type of tracking sensors, Nudol could also serve as a pathfinder for Aerostat.

What seems to be a new test range for anti-missile systems (Object 2142) is being constructed near the town of Severo-Yeniseiskiy in the Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia. It is part of a project called Ukazchik-KV, which in one document was associated with “a test range and internal flight path for tests of anti-missile systems and anti-missile countermeasures” (“internal flight path” probably meaning a flight path that doesn’t cross Russia’s borders.)[41] Planned for installation at the new test range are radars and optical tracking systems similar to those used at Sary-Shagan. One map of the test range shows (simulated) warheads coming in from the northwest, indicating the new “internal flight path” will be from Plesetsk to Severo-Yeniseiskiy and complement or replace the currently used flight path from Kapustin Yar to Sary-Shagan.[42] Late last year, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the site near Severo-Yeniseiskiy was needed for tests of the new Sarmat liquid-fuel ICBM, but it clearly will be used for other purposes as well.[43]

mapMap of the “Object 2142” test range, scattered over a large area near Severo-Yeniseiskiy. The arrow in the upper left corner indicates the direction of travel of incoming warheads. (Source)

Ukazchik-KV was assigned to Almaz-Antey on the very same day as Aerostat (July 12, 2013), as was yet another missile defense project called Selektsiya, which seems to be aimed at creating an integrated command structure for Russia’s air and missile defense systems. It is not entirely clear though if there is any connection between these three projects, which were initiated under three different government contracts. But even if Aerostat does not need the new test range, it seems to have fallen far behind the schedule originally set out for it and may still be a long way from reaching operational status.

How the Australian horn is destabilizing the world: Daniel

Beijing’s conversion of this prowess into significant military and diplomatic might is now altering the global balance of power

How the AUKUS pact could destabilise China, and the rest of the word

By Chris Ogden9th October

CHINA’S dramatic accumulation of economic power over the last 40 years has increasingly focused the attention of western countries upon Asia.

Beijing’s conversion of this prowess into significant military and diplomatic might is now altering the global balance of power. It also suggests that while ­China is rising to international pre-eminence, countries such as the US and the UK are in relative – if not terminal – decline.

At stake in these dynamics is who ­determines the nature of the world order in which international politics takes place but also if this transformation can happen peacefully and will be accepted by all ­involved.

Central to such an outlook from a ­western perspective are attempts to ­present China as an imminent threat to the international system. Such ­narratives claim that Beijing is seeking to use its ­economic and military might to take over the world in a manner akin to that of the US, who effectively dominated the world since the end of the Second World War until the early 21st century.

READ MORE: Iraq and the Balkans remind us of the power of the people

This viewpoint overlooks Beijing’s repeated insistence upon wishing for a peaceful international system in which several countries hold power. It also ­ignores 2000 years of Chinese history ­during which China dominated Asia, but not the world, and who reigned based more upon respect than brute force.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wishes to restore this past status, which was debased for over a century prior to 1949, and began with the Opium Wars with the British in 1839-42, and also included long periods of war, invasion and then occupation by Japan.

This period of shame is known ­within China as the “Century of ­Humiliation”, and was characterised by chaos, ­uncertainty and instability. Used as a touchstone for nationalism, it included China losing its regional supremacy to ­Japan, which ­remains as a ­significant point of friction between the two sides. Not only did Japan occupy parts of ­China, its forces also ­carried out ­atrocities against the population – most ­notoriously the Nanjing Massacre of 1937-8 that ­resulted in between 40,000 and 300,000 deaths (and which is still denied by ­Japanese ­nationalists to this day).

Importantly too, Japan’s occupation also saw the loss of territory in the form of Taiwan (then known as Formosa), as well as related Chinese claims ­concerning some small islands in the South China Sea. When the 1919 Treaty of Versailles wrongly transferred German-occupied portions of Shandong to Japanese control rather than back to China, it also bred a deep-seated suspicion towards the west.

Any actions by western countries that seek to limit China’s regional ­power ­immediately trigger such historical ­memories not only for CCP leaders but also for a population that is well-educated in their history.

The announcement of the AUKUS pact between the US, the UK and ­Australia, that heightens the west’s ­military ­presence in the Indo-Pacific, typifies such ­triggering. So too will the upcoming meeting of “the Quad” (between the US, Japan, Australia and India) where its various leaders will proclaim a need to bolster democracy in the region as part of their “rules-based” international order. Such aims have been – and will be – interpreted by Beijing as being essentially anti-China, and due to highly virulent nationalist voices in the country, will force CCP leaders to openly and decisively respond.

The AUKUS pact is also indicative of the lengths to which western powers fear that their status is threatened by China. Apart from burning many ­diplomatic bridges between the EU and the ­members of AUKUS, by giving Australia access to sensitive technology in the form of ­nuclear powered submarines, the deal tacitly encourages nuclear proliferation.

It also acts, from Beijing’s ­perspective, as a new threatening element in the ­Indo-Pacific region that actively seeks to limit, if not derail, its development and modernisation goals. These goals are ­essential to China restoring its past status as Asia’s number one power.

In these ways, it is unsurprising that China will now seek to enhance its own military capabilities, and as such the AUKUS pact reduces – rather than ­maximises – regional security.

It also augments the perception ­within some nationalist and military circles in China that such moves by the west will affect China’s ability to reclaim ­Taiwan, which is central to overturning the ­injustices of the Century of Humiliation.

Such fears explain in part why ­China has carried out so many incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone in the last weeks, which are occurring at an ­unprecedented level. Such incursions are also done to test Taiwan’s defensive capabilities and to put pressure upon its pilots but concurrently increase western and regional perceptions that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is imminent.

Such reactions and counter-reactions, accompanied by increasingly histrionic rhetoric, again only serve to increase ­tensions on all sides and do little to foster stability.

Chinese suspicions concerning western intentions were recently only increased further when US President Biden ­announced to the United Nations that “for the first time in 20 years the United States is not at war. We’ve turned the page” despite the fact that the US has ­active troops in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

In total, across 80 countries, the US also still has 800 active military bases (versus 70 bases across the world held by all ­other countries). When heightened by negative historical memories, western actions are thus regarded as ­hypocritical and ­duplicitous. This is ­especially so in light of the huge failed invasions ­regarding ­Afghanistan and Iraq that bought ­insecurity to Central Asia and the Middle East.

In turn, western strategic thinkers ­appear to have neglected to consider the impact of AUKUS upon North Korea, which continues to enhance its nuclear weapons capability and does so – partly – out of fear of a western intervention.

Given the militarising effect that AUKUS will have on the region, ­Pyongyang will continue to develop such a capacity and we can expect to see more weapons and missiles tests, which again will act as a catalyst for further destabilising forces in the Indo-Pacific, which are on China’s southern border.

SEEN in the context of a wider narrative that attempts to situate China-Western relations within that of a “new Cold War”, the potential for further competition and friction is palpable.

Not only is such a narrative misplaced – in that the globalised, highly inter-connected world is no longer split into two separate trade and diplomatic blocs – it also casts China as the new enemy of the west despite very deep-seated ties ­between the two sides.

These primarily include – in 2020 – China being the top trading partner of the US (with $560.10 billion in trade), Japan ($141.6 billion), Australia ($90.6 billion) and India ($77.70 billion). It was also the third highest trade partner of the UK (at $18.6 billion), after the US and the EU.

Such ties beggar the question; if China is such a major threat to global ­stability, why do these countries have such ­deep-seated economic relations with it?

China is also a vital partner concerning the climate emergency and managing the global financial system, and is essential to the world finding solutions to such major issues. Pressuring China through AUKUS would appear to be counter-intuitive in solving such questions and may cause China to embolden the economic and ­diplomatic ties that it is building across Asia and the world.

In particular, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is investing between

$1 and $8 trillion in railway, road, and sea route infrastructure, as well as ­construction, real estate, and power grids. This investment is attracting other ­countries to Beijing, and by extension greatly reduces relative western influence in global politics. Building such ­“win-win” ties that are not based upon military force and coercion also helps China to present itself as a more peaceful and more stable alternative to the west.

Notwithstanding the human rights concerns apparent in Xinjiang or the ­increased control and surveillance of the Chinese population through the Social Credit System, the AUKUS pact and the western insecurities will thus ­undoubtedly fuel destabilise the ­Indo-Pacific region.

If a conflict is forced over China’s ­territorial claims relating to Taiwan or islands in the South China Sea, the ­consequences will be devastating.

These relate to the human cost of any conflict – in which Chinese, and arguably western, leaders will not wish to be seen to back down – but also concerning the ­resultant damage to the global economy, which with China at its epicentre will ­precipitate a decades-long worldwide depression.

The ramifications of such a conflict will be felt everywhere, including in Scotland, and must make us ask why the UK ­Government is seemingly on a pathway that facilitates such an eventuality.

READ MORE: El Salvador: The Scottish people who emigrated to Latin America

Coming at a time when much of the British economy is visibly convulsing from the country’s withdrawal from the EU, as well as the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we must also ­question the value of such badly thought through consequences of the AUKUS pact.

AS a country that is firmly in decline on the world stage, the instinct to punch above its weight and to side with the US no matter the consequences remains (and has little heed for the lessons from the disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq).

This hubris only underlines the ­perilous nature of contemporary UK foreign ­policy, and the unintended consequences that trying to grasp on to the country’s past status will bring.

Chris Ogden is Senior Lecturer in Asian Security at the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews

Australian nuclear horn a serious worry for China: Daniel 7

Australia’s nuclear submarine deal is a serious worry for China

Decision to partner with U.S. and U.K. will have major knock-on effects

Admiral James Stavridis was 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and 12th Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He spent the bulk of his operational career in the Pacific, and is author of “2034: A Novel of the Next World War.”

The sudden decision by Australia to switch from purchasing 12 French-made diesel submarines to buying eight vastly more capable — and much more expensive — nuclear-powered attack boats from the U.S., has signaled a dramatic shift in Asia’s geopolitical and military balance of power.

The decision will accelerate tensions between China and Australia; create a nagging sense of grievance on the part of France; increase European desires for military and political independence from the U.S.; and — over time — potentially cause India and possibly Japan — to consider a nuclear-powered subsurface fleet.

For Australia, the decision — while expensive and politically costly with Europe generally and in particular with France — is fairly straightforward for three reasons.

The first is the vast distances of the Pacific. Not only can nuclear subs travel indefinitely submerged, but the long distances from Australia to operational waters mean that nuclear-powered boats simply make more sense.

Additionally, the chance to participate in the highest-end nuclear propulsion technology available today with the U.S. and the U.K., alongside the additional ultrahigh level warfighting capability that will be provided, is a quantum leap over what the French had on offer.

Finally, and most importantly, the decision aligns the Aussies squarely with the U.S. geopolitically, with the added bonus of operating with increased deployments of the U.K.’s new aircraft carriers to the Western Pacific. It is also a long-term operational bet on the Five Eyes intelligence network comprising the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The precise design of the Australian subs is still being developed, but it will likely mirror the U.S. Los Angeles-class boats, which are extremely quiet, packed with both long-range land attack Tomahawk missiles and lethal undersea torpedoes.

These are very deep diving boats, that are extremely reliable operationally. And with eight of them ultimately flying the Australian flag, the subsurface flotilla will have the ability to interdict China’s technologically inferior and mostly diesel-powered submarines; protect allied sea lanes of communication to and from Australia; and operate seamlessly with U.S. and British nuclear submarines and carrier strike groups.

France is genuinely angry, and the decision will haunt Australian-French-U. S. relations for some time to come. President Emmanuel Macron — never a NATO fan, and long skeptical of the U.S. as a partner — is conflating it with the flawed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, making the understandable case that Washington cannot be trusted.

Emmanuel Macron is conflating the sudden decision by Australia with the flawed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, making the understandable case that Washington cannot be trusted.   © AP

Macron maintains that France too is a “Pacific power” by virtue of its various island territories with well over a million French citizens in the various French possessions. Indeed, Europe more broadly is annoyed by the decision as it is part of a growing tendency for English-speaking nations to operate independently under their long-established Five Eyes intelligence protocol and expand various free trade agreements.

It will cause Europe to be slower in signing up with American desires to confront China in the Pacific over everything from Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea to rejecting fifth-generation, or 5G, networks provided by Huawei Technologies.

The view from Beijing is predictably angry. The Chinese are warning of a significant naval arms race — a bit disingenuously given that their shipbuilding programs, including nuclear-powered vessels, are the largest in the world at the moment — and threatening consequences against Australia, for whom China is its largest trading partner.

One particularly interesting aspect of the entire affair is how this will be received in Tokyo and New Delhi. The Indians have several nuclear-powered submarines, but none with remotely the capability of the next-generation Australian boats. And the Japanese, of course, have nuclear power ashore but not on their military vessels.

Both nations are increasingly comfortable operating in the so-called Quad that aligns them with both the U.S. and Australia. With the U.S. and Australia operating top-of-the-line nuclear attack boats, both the other partners may decide to maintain interoperability, and parity, by making their next generation of undersea vessels nuclear powered.

This would also infuriate the Chinese, as they would perceive themselves as being hemmed in on the entire maritime sea space extending Japan in the north, to Australia in the south, the U.S. to the east, and India to its west.

Particularly as China seeks to consolidate its claims of territoriality in the South China Sea, the rise of such a powerful naval force in alignment against it would be deeply worrisome. Fortunately for the Chinese, it will be difficult for either the Indians — due to costs and technology barriers — and the Japanese — due to cultural and constitutionals concerns — to overcome the challenges involved in going nuclear.

This is a success for the U.S. and Australia; a loss for Europe and France; and a serious worry for China. Whether the idea of nuclear-powered submarines spreads even further will be a key determinant of how heated a naval arms race in the Pacific will become.

The Russian horns new nuclear toys Daniel 7

Russian developing 4,000mph hypersonic nuke missile for stealth fighter jets that can hit ANYWHERE on Earth in minutes

14:50 ET,

VLADIMIR Putin’s top weapons designers are developing a 4,000mph hypersonic nuclear missile that is capable of reducing a city anywhere on Earth to ashes within minutes.

The nukes will be fired from fifth-generation fighter Su-57 and travel five times faster than sound — making it almost impossible to shoot down. 

The hypersonic missile will be carried by the new Su-57 stealth fighters
The hypersonic missile will be carried by the new Su-57 stealth fightersCredit: Getty

Russian news agency Interfax reports the missile will be used against sea targets and ports and undergo tests by the end of this year.  

Citing sources in the Russian Defence Ministry, Izvestia newspaper reports the hypersonic weapon is being designed for the Su-57 stealth fighter by the Tactical Missile Corporation under a codename “Larchinka-MD”.

It writes: “It will fly at speeds five or more times faster than sound and will become virtually invulnerable to modern air and missile defence systems.”

Earlier this it emerged that Russia said today it has successfully test-fired its new lethal Zircon hypersonic missile from a submarine for the first time.

Video footage shows the 6,670mph rocket being fired from the nuclear-powered sub-Severodvinsk before streaking into the night sky.

The weapon was launched from the surface in the White Sea and successfully hit a target in the Barents Sea, said the defence ministry in Moscow.

Russia claims the “unstoppable” Mach 9 missile is able to evade all Western defences.

“The Russian navy carried out the first tests of the Zircon hypersonic missile from the Severodvinsk nuclear submarine,” an official statement read.

“The missile was test-fired at a conditional sea target in the Barents Sea.

“The test-firing of the Zircon missile from the nuclear submarine was recognised as successful.”

Russia said last week said it had completed flight tests of the new-age missile from a frigate, the Admiral Gorshkov, and a coastal mount.

Hamas Is Building a Second Front Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas Is Building a Second Front Against Israel in Lebanon

Lebanese army take cover behind shields as they deploy during a protest after Lebanese Prime Minister-Designate Saad al-Hariri abandoned his effort to form a new government, in Beirut, Lebanon July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

In recent days, a senior Iranian military commander boasted that his country has built “six armies outside its borders that work for it.”

What the officer did not say, however, is that one of these terror armies — Hamas — is busy building a second front against Israel in Lebanon, and that it is trampling on Hezbollah’s toes in the process. While Hezbollah monitors Hamas’ activities in Lebanon, this is not always sufficient to control its activities.

Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, director of the research department at the Alma Research and Education Center, which sheds light on security threats to Israel emanating from Syria and Lebanon, is preparing a major investigative report into Hamas’ presence in Lebanon — and his findings are surprising.

The report, which is scheduled to be released later this month, identifies Hamas’ working plans, senior military operatives, and the location of some key Hamas sites on Lebanese territory. It also analyzes the significance of this activity in regard to Sunni Hamas’ relationship to the radical Shiite axis that is led by Iran.

“Hamas’ activities in Lebanon, like those of Hezbollah, can be divided along two central axes,” Beeri, who served for 20 years in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “The first is the political-civilian sphere, and the second is the military-terrorist area.”

The danger posed by Hamas in the West Bank made headlines last week, when the IDF conducted a series of preemptive counter-terrorism raids in multiple locations to disrupt what Israeli officials described as a major Hamas terrorist plot for Jerusalem. Several Palestinian gunmen, including three Hamas members, were killed in exchanges of fire with Israeli forces, and significant quantities of explosives were seized in the raids. It would be safe to bet that Saleh Al-Arouri, the head of the Hamas “West Bank portfolio,” had a hand in the plot, Beeri said.

Al-Arouri resided in Turkey under its sympathetic Islamist government until President Erdogan was compelled to ejecthim in 2015, as part of an unsuccessful US-led attempt to end the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel. Al-Arouri moved to Qatar until Doha also “requested” his departure in 2017, in the midst of a crisis with its Gulf neighbors. After spending a little time in Malaysia, he settled down in Lebanon, and helped set up a significant Lebanese Hamas headquarters, staffed with senior members.

Yet Hamas in Lebanon is not just orchestrating terrorism in the West Bank, Beeri said; it is also shaping an offensive force in Lebanon itself.

Hamas has two Lebanese units that can be activated: The El-Shimali Unit and the Khaled Ali Unit.

“Each one has hundreds of operatives,” he said. “They both deal in recruitment, training, and specialized qualification courses, such as sniping, operating anti-tank missile launchers, drone operators, urban warfare, and tactical intelligence collection.”

Both of these units develop and manufacture weapons in Lebanon, particularly rockets and drones, as well as small unmanned submarines. With Lebanon’s sizeable Palestinian population, the units have “fertile grounds” for recruiting.

In 2018, senior Israeli officials, such as former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, warned that Hamas was trying to build a second front against Israel from southern Lebanon, and that it was building a new terrorist infrastructure for that purpose.

“For around a decade, Hamas has been building a very serious military infrastructure in Lebanon, which will provide them with back-up operational options against Israel in addition to Gaza,” Beeri warned. “The Lebanese front will allow Hamas to manage combat against Israel from two sectors, creating a certain attention problem for Israel.”

Recent months provided clear demonstrations of the role Hamas envisions for its Lebanese operations.

There were five separate rocket attacks out of Lebanon against Israel between May and August. “The likelihood that Hamas was behind all of these attacks is very high,” said Beeri.

Early warning signs of this activity stretch all the way back to 2014, during Israel’s 51-day war with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Hamas operatives fired rockets at Israel from Lebanon too, but the Israeli public was busy with Gazan rocket attacks and did not take much notice.

But Beeri stressed that it is not only Israel that cannot trivialize this development; Hezbollah too cannot afford to turn a blind eye, as the potential repercussions of Hamas’ activities could be severe.

On the surface, Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni Hamas display a common interest in fighting Israel, despite sectarian-ideological gaps between them. But despite the cooperation and the rhetoric, Hezbollah has good reason to be disturbed by what Hamas is doing in its backyard. “Hamas’s buildup of force could pose a true threat to Hezbollah and its status — in Lebanon and the wider Arab world,” said Beeri.

This is due to the fact that Hamas could drag Israel into a wider war in Lebanon, with Hezbollah having no control over the escalation, yet having to face Israeli firepower.

Hezbollah is extremely busy dealing with Lebanon’s multiple crises, and taking advantage of them to increase its power. It is not in its interest to enter into a war with Israel at this time — although this is true for now, and could change from one day to the next.

Thus, despite the declarative unity and common goal of “defending Palestine and Jerusalem,” tension is growing between Hamas, which markets itself as the defender of all Palestinians, and Hezbollah, which presents itself as the defender of the Lebanese people, Beeri noted.

In 2012, when Egypt was ruled by the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Hamas felt that it had finally secured its natural state sponsor and ideal “mother ship.” A year later, when Morsi was overthrown together with his Muslim Brotherhood government, Hamas did not rush back into Iran’s hands, staying “neutral” for a considerable period of time, said Beeri.

The fact that Hamas actively supported Palestinian rebels against the Assad regime in the Al Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus during the Syrian civil war only contributed to tensions, he added.

Tensions reached a boiling point in 2013, when Hezbollah ceased all Hamas activity in Lebanon. In that same year, said Beeri, a Hamas operative fired Grad rockets at Hezbollah’s Dahiya south Beirut heartland, due to tensions over the Syrian civil war and Hezbollah’s key role in supporting the Assad regime.

But none of this tension disrupted the flourishing of military-terrorist cooperation that developed over the years between the Iranian axis and Hamas in Gaza, he added.

Hamas and the Assad regime never completed a reconciliation process, but Iran “is still hugging Hamas despite its zigzags,” said Beeri. “This support extends to Hamas in Lebanon. The military force build-up of Hamas in Gaza and Lebanon has not been harmed by these changes in relations. Hamas continues to receive funding, weapons know-how, and battle doctrine assistance from Iran.”

That should come as no consolation to Hezbollah, which now must deal with Hamas as “an independent entity” in its own heartland.

As for Israel, Beeri said, Jerusalem should adopt a new paradigm and begin dealing with Hamas as a single entity, rather than accepting the division between its Gazan and Lebanese components.

Says Beeri, “Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah is unlikely to rush to start a war if Israel hits Hamas sites and assets precisely in Lebanon.”

Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) Senior Fellow Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the military correspondent for JNS. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence. A version of this article was originally published by IPT.

The Australian Horn joins the war outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Rockets are launched towards Israel from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. Picture: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Rockets are launched towards Israel from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. Picture: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Joint committee hears Australia should classify Hamas ‘in its entirety’ as terrorist organisation

The head of Australia’s domestic intelligence agency has made a bold declaration about Palestinian group Hamas.

The head of Australia’s domestic spy agency has thrown his support behind listing the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

ASIO director-general Mike Burgess said he did not have an issue with the listing the entire Palestinian group.

“Yes I would support it, but I am not the decision maker,” Mr Burgess told a parliamentary inquiry on Friday.

“There is a difference between Hamas and people who consider themselves Palestinian. If they support Hamas, then they would be supporting a terrorist organisation.”

At present, Australia only recognises the group’s paramilitary wing as a terror group.

But Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of a pro-Israel group known as the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said the idea of “wings” within Hamas was fiction.

Dr Schanzer said the Home Affairs Minister should list the entirety of Hamas under the Criminal Code. 

“There is no separating the Izz-Add brigades (the paramilitary) from the broader organisation,” he said on Friday.

“This is a fiction perpetuated by those who wish to engage with elements of the terrorist group.

“The entry of Hamas should be listed as a terrorist group in Australia and around the world.”

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has been urged by experts to follow the lead of Canada, the EU and the US in classifying all of Hamas as a terrorist organisation. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has been urged by experts to follow the lead of Canada, the EU and the US in classifying all of Hamas as a terrorist organisation. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan and the United States have designated the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

In order to be listed as a terrorist organisation, an agency would need to nominate Hamas to the Department of Home Affairs.

There is no nomination for the broader group before the department, but representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Home Affairs confirmed to the committee they could make a nomination themselves.

Mr Burgess said broadening the listing to include the entire organisation would not have an impact on ASIO’s work, nor would it “present broader national security concerns”.

Burnt cars in the Israeli town of Holon near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021, after rockets were launched towards Israel from the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas. (Picture: Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)
Burnt cars in the Israeli town of Holon near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021, after rockets were launched towards Israel from the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas. (Picture: Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

He said Hamas brigades were assessed as a threat to military and civilian targets in Israel.

“As a consequence, they remain a security concern to ASIO, and we support the listing,” Mr Burgess said.

“ASIO has assessed (the brigades) as a highly capable terror organisation that are committed to using terror tactics in targeting Israel.”

Listing all of Hamas as a terrorist organisation would expose its supporters to counter-terrorism laws.
The committee has been asked to review whether Al-Shabaab; the Kurdistan Workers’ Party; Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Palestinian Islamic Jihad; as well as Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades will continue to be listed as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code. 

This will be the ninth time Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades will be relisted.

The Pakistani Nuclear Horn: Revelation 8

US generals concerned over Pak’s nuclear arsenal in wake of Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

ANI |

Sep 30, 2021 00:20 IST

Washington [US], September 30 (ANI): Top US Generals has said they had warned USPresident Joe Biden that a rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan could increase risks to Pakistan nuclear weapons and the country’s security, Dawn reported.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said: “We estimated an accelerated withdrawal would increase risks of regional instability, the security of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenals.” 
“We need to fully examine the role of Pakistan sanctuary,” the general said while emphasising the need to probe how the Taliban withstood US military pressure for 20 years.
On August 31, the US completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistanunder the Doha accord it signed with the Taliban last year.
The top military officials have appeared first time before the Senate after the Afghanistanpullout.

General Milley and General Frank McKenzie, the leader of US Central Command, also warned that the Taliban Pakistan will now have to deal with would be different from the one they dealt with earlier, and this would complicate their relations.
“I believe Pakistan‘s relationship with the Taliban is going to become significantly more complicated as a result of the USwithdrawal from Afghanistan,” General McKenzie told the lawmakers.
The Centcom chief also said that the US and Pakistan were involved in ongoing negotiations over the use of a vital air corridor to access Afghanistan.
“Over the last 20 years we’ve been able to use what we call the air boulevard to go in over western Pakistan and that’s become something that’s vital to us, as well as certain landlines of communication,” he said.
During the testimony, another top USGeneral Mark Milley said that Washington “would have gone into war with the Taliban if it had stayed after the August 31 deadline”.Both generals also disputed Biden’s claim that al-Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan.
Underlining the concerns over Afghanistan‘s future, General McKenzie said that it’s ‘yet to be seen’ if terrorists can be stopped from using Afghan soil as the launchpad”, according to Sputnik. (ANI)

The Saudi Nuclear Horn Should Face Full UN Inspection: Revelation 7

Saudis Nuclear Program Should Face Full UN Inspection: Iran Official

As top US officials variously meet leading Saudis, Iran’s deputy foreign minister calls for Riyadh to open its atomic sites to full inspection and for Israel to sign NPT.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Reza Najafi Tuesday urged Saudi Arabia to be transparent over its nuclear activities and open up the access of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Najafi rejected remarks by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan earlier Tuesday to the UN General Assembly criticising “Iran’s continued breaches and violations of international agreements and treaties related to the nuclear agreement, and its escalation of its nuclear activities in addition to research and development activities.”

Addressing the UN General Assembly’s high-level meeting held to commemorate and promote International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (September 26), Najafi said Iran rejected the retention, stockpiling, development, use, and proliferation of nuclear arms.

Iran is in a dispute with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over traces of previously undeclared radioactive material that it has failed to fully explain and over monitoring access to the UN nuclear watchdog.

Reza Najafi, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for legal affairs. FILE PHOTO

Reza Najafi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for legal affairs. FILE PHOTO

It has also been enriching uranium to 60 percent and stockpiling it in violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.

Najafi condemned the modernization and strengthening of nuclear arsenals by the United States and other nuclear-weapon states in violation of their arms-reduction commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Najafi said Israel continued to “threaten peace and security in the Middle East and beyond through its clandestine nuclear program,” and urged the world to invite Israel to join the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA monitoring.

Unlike Israel, which is believed to hold around 180 nuclear bombs, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are NPT signatories. Saudi Arabia – which has no nuclear reactor but reportedly past nuclear links with both Iraq and Pakistani scientist AQ Khan – has limited the Safeguards access of the IAEA under a ‘small quantities protocol.’

Referring to a 2018 interview with the US CBC’s 60 Minutes program in which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman suggested Riyadh might adopt nuclear weapons if Iran developed one, Iran’s state-run English channel Press TVand Tasnim news agency both claimed Wednesday that there is “international concern” over Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions.

Saudi Arabia backed former United States president Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from Iran’s 2015 deal with world powers limiting its nuclear program – the JCPOA, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The new administration of President Joe Biden has continued Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions as Iran has continued to expand its atomic program with steps that began in 2019.

Prince Faisal this week met with US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss recent developments in Iran’s nuclear case. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia Tuesday to discuss Yemen and Iran – the White House kept Sullivan’s visit low-profile and no photos were issued.

In his speech to the annual UN General Assembly last week, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz expressed hope that continuing talks with Iran, brokered by Baghdad, to restore relations would build confidence. The kingdom cut diplomatic ties in 2016 when protestors attacked its Tehran embassy after Riyadh executed 47 dissidents including leading Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

The Korean nuclear horn advances

The Hwasong-8 missile firing into the sky in North Korea, according to state media
North Korean state media released a photo which it said was the Hwasong-8 missile

North Korea says it fired new ‘hypersonic missile’

14 hours ago

North Korea has claimed that it successfully tested a new hypersonic missile called Hwasong-8 on Tuesday.

State media said the new missile was one of the “five most important” new weapons systems laid out in its five-year military development plan.

They called the missile a “strategic weapon”, which usually means it has nuclear capabilities.

Tuesday’s launch is another indication of Pyongyang’s growing weapons technology amid strict sanctions.

“The development of this weapons system…[has increased] the nation’s capabilities for self-defence in every way,” North Korean state news outlet KCNA said. 

Tuesday’s launch also saw North Korea introduce missile fuel ampoule for the first time – described by North Korea analyst Ankit Panda as a “significant milestone”.

This is a technology that allows missiles to be pre-fuelled and then sent to the field in canisters. This means it could potentially stay launch-ready for years.

The latest launch also marked the country’s third missile test this month. It has already revealed a new type of cruise missile, as a well as a new train-launched ballistic missile system.

Yesterday’s launch came as its North Korean envoy Kim Song defended the country’s right to develop weapons at the annual UN General Assembly in New York. 

Mr Kim said the country was “building up our national defence in order to defend ourselves and reliably safeguard the security and peace of the country”.

What is a hypersonic missile?

Hypersonic missiles are much faster and more agile than normal ones, making them much harder for missile defence systems to intercept.

North Korea joins a small pool of countries, including the United States, Russia, China and India, in attempting to develop the weapons. In July Russia announced that it had successfully launched a hypersonic missile which reached a speed of 8659.88km/h (5381mph) from a frigate in the White Sea. 

KCNA said the test launch confirmed the “navigational control and stability of the missile”.

Mr Panda, a Stanton Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said it was difficult at this point to assess the “precise capabilities” of the missile, but added that it could “presumably present a very different challenge for missile defence from traditional ballistic missiles”. 

This addition of the missile fuel ampoule means the weapon would be ready to be fired straight away. If it doesn’t need to be fuelled out in the field, it means the launch time is much quicker. The quicker launch time also means it’s more difficult for other countries to make a pre-emptive strike.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had at an earlier meeting in January declared that scientists had “finished research” into developing hypersonic gliding warheads. Tuesday’s test was the first for this new system. 

“The push to develop a hypersonic glider isn’t all too surprising given that Kim Jong Un had indicated this back in January,” said Mr Panda. 

“This is, however, a reminder that Mr Kim’s missile ambitions are far from having run their course.”

However, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said they believed this hypersonic missile was still at an early stage of development and it will take a considerable period of time before it can be deployed in combat. They added that both South Korea and the US are currently capable of detecting and intercepting this missile.

What do we know about North Korea’s weapons programme?

North Korea’s recent tests – this was the third one fired this month alone – indicate that it is ramping up its weapons programme. 

KCNANorth Korea earlier tested a cruise missile

The US has been calling for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, and Pyongyang’s relationship with President Joe Biden’s administration has so far been fraught with tension.

Japan and North Korea also have enduring tensions rooted in Japan’s 35-year colonisation of Korea (1910-1945), Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear and missile programmes, and the North’s past abduction of Japanese citizens.

Despite this, Pyongyang seems determined to prove it will continue to develop new weapons systems, saying they are needed for its own self-defence.

It has also repeatedly accused South Korea of double standards over military activities.

South Korea recently tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, which it said was needed as deterrence against North Korea’s “provocations”. 

Last month the UN atomic agency said North Korea appeared to have restarted a reactor which could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, calling it a “deeply troubling” development.Why does North Korea keep launching missiles?

The February 2020 deal set a date for the US to pull out and strengthened the Taliban, generals say.

In anticipation of the New Zealand nuclear horn: Daniel 7

With the AUKUS alliance confronting China, New Zealand should ramp up its anti-nuclear diplomacy

OPINION: New Zealand might not be part of the recently revealed security agreement between the US, Britain and Australia (AUKUS), but it certainly can’t avoid the diplomatic and strategic fallout.

Under the pact, Australia stands to gain nuclear-powered submarine capability, with the US seeking greater military basing rightsin the region. ASEAN allies have had to be reassured over fears the region is being nuclearised.

Unsurprisingly, China and Russia both reacted negatively to the AUKUS arrangement. France, which lost out on a lucrative submarine contract with Australia, felt betrayed and offended.

Johnson tells Macron to ‘get a grip’ over AUKUS submarine deal

Boris Johnson has dismissed French anger about the Australian submarines deal, insisting Emmanuel Macron should “get a grip”.

But behind the shifting strategic priorities the new agreement represents – specifically, the rise of an “Indo-Pacific” security focus aimed at containing China – lies a nuclear threat that is growing.

Already there have been warnings from China that AUKUS could put Australia in the atomic cross-hairs. Of course, it probably already was, with the Pine Gap intelligence facility a likely target.

While New Zealand’s nuclear-free statusmakes it a less obvious target, it is an integral part of the Five Eyes intelligence network. Whether that would make the Waihopai spy base an attractive target in a nuclear conflict is known only to the country’s potential enemies.

What we do know, however, is that nuclear catastrophe remains a very real possibility. According to the so-called Doomsday Clock, it is currently 100 seconds to midnight – humanity’s extinction point should some or all of the planet’s 13,100 nuclear warheads be launched.

The US and Russia account for most of these, with 1550 many of these deployed on high alert (meaning they can be fired within 15 minutes of an order) and thousands more stockpiled.

The other members of the “nuclear club” – France, Britain, Israel, India, North Korea, Pakistan and China – are estimated to possess over 1000 more.

Most of these warheads are much larger than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. US, Russian and Chinese investment in the development of a new generation of hypersonic missiles has raised fears of a new arms race.

From New Zealand’s point of view, this is more than disappointing. Having gone nuclear free in the 1980s, it worked hard to export the policy and promote disarmament. The high-tide was in 2017 when 122 countries signed the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

But the nine nuclear-capable countries simply shrugged. The Trump administration even wrote to the signatories to say they had made “a strategic error” that “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament” and urged them to rescind their ratification.

President Donald Trump then began popping rivets out of the international frameworks keeping the threat of nuclear war in check. He quit the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which prohibited short- to medium-range nukes in Europe, and the Open Skies agreement, which allowed flights through national air space to monitor compliance.

He also quit the multi-national agreement restricting Iran’s nuclear programme (despite Iran’s compliance) and failed to denuclearise North Korea, despite much fanfare. The bilateral START agreement limiting US and Russian nukes survived, but China rebuffed Trump’s idea of a trilateral nuclear pact.

Nor is the clock ticking backwards with Joe Biden in the White House. Although he extended START, the Iran deal hasn’t been resurrected and there’s been no breakthrough with a still provocative North Korea.

Both the INF and the Open Skies agreements lie dormant, and the AUKUS pact has probably seen US-Chinese relations hit a new low.

While it makes sense for New Zealand to maintain and promote its nuclear-free policy, it must also be pragmatic about reducing tension and risk, particularly in its own region. Being outside the AUKUS agreement and being on good terms with China is a good start.

Not being a nuclear state might mean New Zealand lacks clout or credibility in such a process. But the other jilted ally outside the AUKUS relationship, France, is both a nuclear power and has strong interests in the region.

Like China, France sits outside the main framework of US-Russia nuclear regulation. Now may well be the time for France to turn its anger over the AUKUS deal into genuine leadership and encourage China into a rules-based system. This is where New Zealand could help.

The Christchurch Call initiative, led by Jacinda Ardern and French president Emmanuel Macron after the 2019 terrorist attack, shows New Zealand and France can cooperate well. Now may be the chance to go one step further, where the country that went nuclear-free works with the country that bombed the Rainbow Warrior, and together start to talk to China.

This would involve discussions about weapons verification and safety measures in the Indo-Pacific region, including what kinds of thresholds might apply and on what terms nuclear parity might be established and reduced.

Such an initiative might be difficult and slow – and for many hard to swallow. But New Zealand has the potential to be an honest broker, and has a voice that just might be heard above the ticking of that clock.

As UN Secretary General António Guterres warned only last week: “We are on the edge of an abyss and moving in the wrong direction. Our world has never been more threatened or more divided.”

Alexander Gillespie is a Professor of Law at the University of Waikato.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.