A world on edge – headlines, 24 March,2021

A world on edge – headlines, 24 March,2021



North Korea has said it test-fired an upgraded tactical guided missile, which South Korean and Japanese military earlier described as a short-range ballistic missile. The launch was Pyongyang’s second in a week.

The test-fire was carried out on Thursday, according to the state-affiliated KNCA, 

Two of the new munitions were tested, which are said to use improved solid fuel engines and heavierwarheads weighing 2.5 tons.

The projectiles “accurately hit the target set in waters 600 kilometers off the east coast of Korea,” the report said, adding that the test was overseen by Ri Pyong Chol, a member of the political bureau of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party.


The report comes a month after an incident in the Gulf of Oman left another Israeli ship, MV Helios Ray, damaged – although not critically so – after two blasts at its hull. Tel Aviv alleged that Iran might be behind the attack, but Tehran strongly denies its involvement.

A cargo ship owned by Israeli XT Management suffered damage after being hit by an “Iranian missile” as it sailed through the Arabian Sea on its way from Tanzania to India, Channel 12 News reported without revealing its sources. The broadcaster said that the ship’s owner was notified of the attack and that a decision was made to allow the vessel to continue its journey to its destination in India, where it will reportedly undergo repairs.

The report did not include the name of the ship that had supposedly been damaged by the missile.

The media claims that the Israeli military are investigating the incident, and Reuters cited the Foreign Ministry as saying that they are checking the report about the attack on the vessel.

Iran Faces Accusations of Attacks on Ships

The incident with XT Management’s vessel reportedly took place a month after two blasts of unknown origin damaged the hull of another Israeli-owned ship, MV Helios Ray, as it sailed through the Gulf of Oman. The attack left the ship with two hull breaches above the waterline, but did not affect its crew. The vessel later entered a nearby dock for repairs.

Israeli officials accused Iran with varying degrees of certainty of being responsible for the attack, but failed to provide evidence supporting the claims. Tel Aviv authorities said they will conduct a probe into the incident. Iran, in turn, strongly denied the allegations and snapped back, saying that Israel is the main source of insecurity in the region.


Israeli-owned ship hit by missile in suspected Iranian attack: Israeli official



Taiwan said it is now mass producing a long-range missile capable of striking deep into China and is actively developing three more models – with the missile program deemed “a priority” by Taipei.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the research and development of missiles has “never stopped.”

“We hope it is long-range, accurate, and mobile,” he said. The missile program is being developed by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. Earlier this month, it staged a series of six missile tests to coincide with month-long military exercises by China’s People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait.

Top House Democrat Says Biden Plans to Stay in Afghanistan Beyond May 1st

Rep. Adam Smith claimed May 1st is ‘too soon’ to pull out, but the Pentagon said it can meet the deadline if ordered to withdraw

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said that the Biden administration plans to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond the May 1st deadline set by the US-Taliban peace deal that was signed last year.

“It’s a general feeling that May 1 is too soon, just logistically,” Smith said at a panel on Wednesday, according to Responsible Statecraft. Smith cited conversations he had with administration officials. “You cannot pull out ten thousand plus troops in any sort of reasonable way in just six weeks,” he said.

Smith said the Biden administration wants to “negotiate past May 1” with the Taliban. “Job one is to try to get back in to talk to the Taliban about at least giving us more time,” he said. Smith said the argument for staying is “purely logistical.”

While Smith claims May 1st is “too soon,” the Pentagon said on Tuesday that they are ready to meet the deadline if President Biden orders the withdrawal.

When asked by reporters on Tuesday if it is “logistically” possible to meet the May 1st deadline, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is confident that General Scott Miller, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, could get it done.

“I would point you back to what Secretary Austin said when we were in Kabul, which is that — that he’s confident that Generals McKenzie and General Miller, if a decision is made, to completely withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, that they will get it done in a safe, orderly, and effective way,” Kirby said.

February 8th marked the first full year since the war started in 2001 that no US troops died in combat in Afghanistan. The Taliban are expected to start targeting US soldiers again if President Biden chooses to stay beyond May 1st.

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