India Gets Ready To Test Nuclear-Capable Agni-V ICBM That Can Hit Northern China
- NEW DELHI : India is getting ready to test its Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its final operational configuration from Wheeler Island off Odisha after two years. Defence sources said preparations were on in full swing to launch the nuclear-capable Agni-V from its canister on a launcher truck towards December-end or early January . "There were some minor technical snags in Agni-V, which required tweaking of its internal battery and electronic configurations after its last test in January 2015+ ," a source said. But India also conceivably wanted to exercise some strategic restraint while making a bid to join the 48-country Nuclear Suppliers Group+ , which China thwarted earlier this year. India, however, did manage to join+ the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime ( MTCR+ ), as also ink a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan+ recently .
- The impending fourth test of Agni-V, capable of striking even the northernmost parts of China, is in itself significant. "This will be the final test of the three-stage Agni-V, which will be tested for its full range, before the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) begins its user trials," the source said. The tri-Service SFC, established in 2003 to manage India's nuclear arsenal, will conduct at least two tests before the missile is produced in adequate numbers for induction. While Agni-V was tested in an "open configuration" in April 2012+ and for the second time in September 2013+ , the third test, in January 2015, saw it being fired from a hermetically sealed canister mounted on a Tatra launcher truck. The missile's canister-launch version makes it even deadlier since it gives the armed forces requisite flexibility to swiftly transport and fire the 50-tonne missile from anywhere they want.
- Once the Agni-V is inducted, India will join the superexclusive club of countries with ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the UK. Apart from the shorter-range Prithvi and Dhanush missiles, the SFC has inducted the Agni-I, Agni-II and Agni-III missiles. While these missiles are mainly geared towards Pakistan, the Agni-IV and Agni-V are specifically meant for deterrence against China+ . Beijing, of course, is leagues ahead in terms of its missile and nuclear arsenals. But the Indian defence establishment believes the Agni-V is sufficient to take care of existing threat perceptions. As earlier reported by TOI, DRDO has also done some work on developing "manoeuvring warheads or intelligent re-entry vehicles"+ to defeat enemy ballistic missile defence systems, as well as MIRVs (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) for the Agni missiles. An MIRV payload basically means a single missile is capable of carrying several nuclear warheads, each programmed to hit different targets.
Murray Brothers Named ITF World Champions
- PARIS : Andy Murray capped a stellar season by being named alongside his brother Jamie on Tuesday as International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Champion for 2016. It is the first time that two brothers have been named as men's singles and doubles World Champions in the same year. Angelique Kerber won the women's award becoming Germany's first World Champion since Steffi Graf in 1996.
- Andy Murray sealed the year-end number one ranking after defeating Novak Djokovic to win the ATP World Tour Finals. The 29-year-old won a total of nine titles during the year, including a second Wimbledon crown and a second Olympic singles gold in Rio. "It means a lot to me to be named ITF World Champion," said Murray. "I have had such a memorable year, winning again at Wimbledon, retaining my Olympic title, and clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking in the last match of the season. "It is particularly special with my brother Jamie also becoming World Champion.
- " Kerber, 28, defeated Serena Williams to capture the Australian Open, before winning the US Open, and silver at the Olympics. Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares of Brazil were named men's doubles World Champions, while French pair Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic won the women's doubles award.
National Boxing Championships : Shiva Wins Gold, Devendro Upstaged
- GUWAHATI : Commonwealth Games silver-medallist L Devendro Singh (52kg) suffered a shock loss to settle for the silver medal but World bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa prevailed in a slightly ill-tempered final clash to pick up his first lightweight (60kg) National Boxing Championships gold medal on Tuesday. The overall title went to the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB), who ended with four gold, one silver and three bronze medals. The Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) finished second with two gold, two silver and two bronze medals. Shiva, fighting with a bruised forehead after being head-butted in the quarterfinals, was aggression personified as he overpowered Haryana's Asian Youth silver-medallist Ankush Dahiya 5-0.
- Shiva protected his injured forehead but did not lack in ferocity to outpunch the spirited but wayward Haryana teen and pick up the only gold medal for Assam in the Championships. With Ankush continuously targeting Shiva's wound, the Assam boxer pumped up the aggression in the second round resulting in a furious exchange. Ankush did not back down either making it a high-voltage showdown which had the crowd on its feet. However, Devendro, a two-time Olympian and an Asian Championships silver-medallist as well, lost 0-5 to Chandigarh greenhorn Deepak Singh, who was competing in his maiden National Championships. "There was slight pressure on me because the bout was against Devendro but I was confident about the hard work I had put in my training. I started boxing as a 12-year-old and this is my first national championships.
- Previously I have won a gold medal in the Inter-University Championships," said the 20-year-old Deepak after causing perhaps the biggest upset of the day. Looking sluggish and far from hundred per cent on the fitness front, Devendro was simply outpunched by the sprightly youngster from the Union Territory which had just one gold to show from the previous Nationals. Devendro's trademark tempo boxing found its match in Deepak and all his attempted attacks were cleverly dodged by the new kid on the block. "Winning and losing is part of sport, it's ok, I will see what went wrong in the bout and will work on my weaknesses but I will stay in flyweight. I am not particularly happy with my fitness levels, as of now it's not even 80 per cent. But I will bounce back, I am not the one to get bogged down by setbacks," said the effervescent Manipuri, who had recovered from an ankle injury just before the Championships.
- In a fine sporting gesture, Devendro happily posed for pictures with his 20-year-old rival after the bout and patted him on the back for a spirited performance. The welterweight title went expectedly to former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj Kumar (RSPB). However, it was no stroll in the park for him today and he was pushed hard by SSCB's Duryodhan Singh before the judges ruled 4-1 in his favour. "I am quite satisfied with how I have performed and I am going to stick to welterweight till Tokyo 2020 Olympics. My opponent deserves applause for the fight he put on but I also had a point to prove and I am glad I did it," Manoj said. There was another upset, in the light flyweight category, where former Asian Youth bronze-medallist K Shyam Kumar was stunned by Haryana's Amit.
Donald Trump Names Exxon CEO & Putin's Friend Tillerson As Secretary Of State
- WASHINGTON : President-elect Donald Trump officially selected Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be his secretary of state on Tuesday. In saying he will nominate Tillerson, the president-elect is dismissing bipartisan concerns that the globe-trotting leader of an energy giant has a too-cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. A statement from Trump's transition office brought to an end his public and chaotic deliberations over the US top diplomat, a process that at times veered from rewarding Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of his most loyal supporters, to musing about whether Mitt Romney, one of his most outspoken critics, might be forgiven. Instead, Trump has decided to risk what looks to be a bruising confirmation fight in the Senate. In the past several days, Republican and Democratic lawmakers had warned that Tillerson would face intense scrutiny over his two-decade relationship with Russia, which awarded him its Order of Friendship in 2013, and with Putin.
- The hearings will also put a focus on Exxon Mobil's business dealings with Moscow. The company has billions of dollars in oil contracts that can go forward only if the US lifts sanctions against Russia, and Tillerson's stake in Russia's energy industry could create a very blurry line between his interests as an oilman and his role as America's leading diplomat. Tillerson has been publicly skeptical about the sanctions, which have halted some of Exxon Mobil's biggest projects in Russia, including an agreement with the state oil company to explore and pump in Siberia that could be worth tens of billions of dollars. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said on Saturday that Tillerson's connections to Putin were "a matter of concern to me" and promised to examine them closely if he were nominated. "Vladimir Putin is a thug, bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying," McCain said on Fox News.
- Trump has fanned speculation about his choice for secretary of state for weeks. In the end, he discarded not only Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Romney, but also an endlessly changing list that at times included Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee; David H. Petraeus, the former Army general and C.I.A. director; and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor and presidential candidate in 2012. Mr. Romney, Mr. Petraeus and Mr. Corker, the three leading runners-up, all received calls late Monday informing them of Mr. Trump's decision, according to people familiar with the president-elect's final choice. He settled on Mr. Tillerson, a deal maker who has spent the past four decades at Exxon, much of it in search of oil and gas agreements in troubled parts of the world.
- A native of Wichita Falls, Tex., who speaks with a strong Texas twang, Mr. Tillerson, 64, runs a company with operations in about 50 countries, and has cut deals to expand business in Venezuela, Qatar, Kurdistan and elsewhere. If confirmed as secretary of state, Mr. Tillerson would face a new challenge: nurturing alliances around the world that are built less on deals and more on diplomacy. That could prove to be a special test when it comes to Russia, where Mr. Tillerson has fought for years to strengthen connections through business negotiations worth billions of dollars. Under his leadership, Exxon has entered into joint ventures with Rosneft, a Russian-backed oil company, and donated to the country's health and social programs.
- In his new role, Mr. Tillerson would have to manage the difficult relationship between the United States and Mr. Putin's Russia, including the economic sanctions imposed after Moscow intervened in Ukraine and occupied Crimea. Last month, President Obama and European leaders agreed to keep sanctions in place until Mr. Putin agrees to a cease-fire and to the withdrawal of heavy weapons from front lines in eastern Ukraine.