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IR, Defence & Security

Cross-border Terrorism • Ten Pakistan-based terrorists have been found involved in funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency into the Valley after the government suspended cross- LoC trade between JK & PoK from April 1.
China & Pakistan• Indian Army is planning to construct underground tunnels for storage of ammunition along the border with China and Pakistan.
Technological Asymmetry• Had the IAF possessed high levels of “technological asymmetry,” it would have been possible to inflict heavy damage on Pakistan during the adversary’s unsuccessful aerial raid on February 27, according to an IAF report.
• The report analysed various aspects of the IAF’s air strike on a JeM terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26.
• In the report, the IAF said the Pakistan Air Force has been consistently enhancing its air defence capabilities since the 1999 Kargil war and there was a need for India to bolster its “technological asymmetry” for aerial combat.
Indigenization• OFB handed over the first batch of six Dhanush artillery guns to the Army. Dhanush is the indigenously upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured in the 1980s. Indigenisation to the extent of about 81%, has already been achieved. By the end of 2019, the indigenisation level of the gun will go up to 91%.
China in Sri Lanka• Sri Lanka has opened a new railway line, built with China’s assistance, connecting its coastal city of Matara and Beliatta in Hambantota, a move that will boost passenger traffic into the island nation’s deep south.
• Sri Lanka has been the major recipient of Chinese loans and investments in recent years, totaling over $8 billion. The heavy borrowing has raised concerns over Sri Lanka’s ability to repay, after Colombo handed over the Hambantota port to Beijing for a 99-year lease in 2017 as a debt swap.
US & NATO• NATO’s chief asked the US for unity in the face of threats from Russia. In a rare joint address to Congress, secretary general Jens Stoltenberg asked the Trump administration to remain in the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. His speech was met with frequent standing ovations—seen as a rebuke to Trump’s criticism of the alliance the week of its 70th anniversary.
US & Iran• USA is designating Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a terrorist organization. IRGC was formed after the 1979 revolution with a mission to defend the clerical regime.
• Iran’s lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill labeling U.S. forces in the West Asia as terrorist, a day after the U.S. terrorism designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard formally took effect
Strategic autonomy• India plans to increase imports from major oil producing nations other than Iran, indicating that it will be acceding to the U.S. plan to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
• U.S. announced that it would be cancelling the waivers from sanctions it had granted eight countries, including India, allowing them to import oil from Iran. Following the revocation of this waiver, any country violating the ban would face U.S. sanctions.