07 AUGUST 2017
1. Chabahar port
- Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman.
- It serves as Iran’s only oceanic port.
- It consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti, each of which have five berths
- Development of the port was first proposed in 1973 by the last Shah of Iran, though development was delayed by the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
- India and Iran first agreed to plans to further develop Shahid Beheshti port in 2003, but did not do so on account of sanctions against Iran.
- In May 2016, India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement in which India would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port.
- The port is intended to provide an alternative for trade between India and Afghanistan.
- This port is 800 kilometers closer to Afghanistan than Pakistan’s Karachi port.[
- In July 2016, India began shipping USD$150 million worth of rail tracks to Chabahar to develop the port container tracks and build USD$1.6 billion Chabahar-Zahedan railway built by India’s Ircon International for which India pledged additional US$400 million and Iran allocated US$125 million in December 2016.
- It is India’s biggest overseas infrastructure push.
- Western manufacturers are now shying away from supplying equipment for an Iranian port that India is developing for fear the United States may reimpose sanctions on Iran
- The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council-China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States-plus Germany), and the European Union.
- Under the agreement, Iran agreed to :
1) eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium
2) cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%
3) reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years
4) only enrich uranium up to 3.67% for the next 15 years
5) not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the next 15 years.
6) uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years.
7) Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks.
8) To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities.
- The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.
3. Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
- It is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
- RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
- The agreement is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017.
- RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.
4. Data localisation
- In the wake of revelations that the U.S. and UK governments regularly monitor private communications — including Internet usage, GPS data, and cell information — a number of countries are considering a new type of law called “data localization.”
- In the simplest of terms, data localization laws would require that businesses that operate on the Internet — including Internet service providers, companies with data operations, and cloud services that control and maintain digital data for business and individuals, including redundant backups — store that data within the country where the businesses are located, rather than on servers in other countries.
- Internet businesses that do not comply could be barred from doing business in that country or fined millions of dollars.
- However, opponents claim it destroys the flexibility of the Internet, where data can be duplicated around the world for backup and efficient access.
- Google and many other Internet businesses have expressed concern that data localization may change the Internet as we know it.
- Clearly, ISPs and cloud providers have a vested interest in a less-restrictive Internet without data localization, so that they might manage expenses — and therefore profits. This interest needs to be balanced with the need for government access of Internet data to protect citizens from terrorists.
5. UN Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty
- The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination.
- It was passed on 7 July 2017.
- In order to come into effect, signature and ratification by at least 50 countries are required.
- For those nations that are party to it, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities.
- For nuclear armed states joining the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for negotiations leading to the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons programme.
- According to a mandate adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2016, negotiations on the treaty began in the United Nations in March 2017 and continued from 15 June to 7 July 2017.
- In the vote on the treaty text, 122 were in favour, 1 voted against (Netherlands), and 1 abstained (Singapore).
69 nations did not vote, among them all of the nuclear weapon states and all NATO members except the Netherlands.