The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre released a brief at the end of October providing worldwide piracy statistics for the year. The report showed substantive decreases in Somali piracy as international efforts–including those from India among other nations–helped curb maritime attacks.
The report comes on top of a recent talk with US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Andrew Shapiro. His remarks at the Atlantic Council suggest that India may be at greater risk due to the Pirates’ increased use of motherships, something the press has been reporting for some time.
There’s been much speculation around PM Singh’s visit to Japan between 15-18NOV12. The Times of India on 05NOV12 mirrored a piece from the Asahi Shimbun speaking of a closer security alliance between the two indicating that Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy will hold joint exercises in the Indian Ocean as well as around Japan. (India and Japan only recently conducted their first bilateral naval exercise in June 2012.) This outcome will reportedly be part of a new bilateral forum on security matters to be announced during the visit.
According to the AS piece, the aim as we’ve often heard before is to counter China’s rising military capabilities in the region. Although that may be so, this move wasn’t hard to foresee as the US recently concluded the trilateral forum between India and Japan during a time when the issues over the Senkakus have been brought into the spotlight.
Like many have speculated, the US may be helping push Japan and India closer together in the hopes India and the US will develop a better relationship despite (what India may see as) diverging national interests.
James Brown on the Lowy Institute’s blog posted visiting PLA Lieutenant-General Ren Haiquin’s speech to the Australian Chief of Army’s annual conference at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. Lieutenant General Ren warned against Cold War notions of Containment having this to say:
Due to historical as well as realistic reasons, current security situation in Asia is not very satisfying and there are still factors destabilizing and uncertain…Asia is now in a transition towards a new type of security order, and external countries involvement complicate the process. Some countries pursue strategies such as “rebalance the Asia-Pacific” and “Looking East” and are increasing their strategic investment.
Iran’s Khabar Online reports on 06NOV12 that the Islamic Republic and Afghanistan have agreed to build a pipeline in order to facilitate the exports of Iran’s oil products to meet the country’s needs. Ali Reza Zeighami, Iran’s deputy oil minister and managing director of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) said an Iranian delegation will soon travel to Afghanistan to discuss the details of the agreement.
Earlier in December 2011, Iran’s Oil Ministry signed an agreement with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the annual export of one million tons of Iranian oil products.
According to the contract, Iran is expected to export products including gasoil, jet fuel and gasoline to Afghanistan.
China’s October data indicates that full-year growth will reach 7.5 per cent, while inflation should come in just under 4 per cent, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics told reporters on 09NOV12. The projections were in line with previous government targets.
The Economic Times on 07NOV12 reports a proposed plan to import LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) from Qatar to Pakistan via India that will be discussed during President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Doha. Accordingly, a senior unnamed official of the Ministry of Petroleum said that besides importing LNG from Qatar through a terminal in India, there was a proposal to import LNG directly from India through a 60-km pipeline to be laid to the Wagah land border.
The Prime Minister’s Advisor on Petroleum Asim Hussain said that the price of LNG was yet to be decided by the two countries but expressed hope the supply would start within 18 months.
In February 2012, Pakistan and Qatar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for importing 3.5 million tons of LNG during a visit to Doha by former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The Associated Press on 04NOV12 reports Iran’s new IRGCN naval base near Iran’s southern port of Bandar-e Lengeh. (On the same day, Iran announced a new VTOL drone that will reportedly be shown sometime next year). The Guards’ navy chief Gen. Ali Fadavi was reported as saying that “missile and marine units have been deployed” at the new base, which will be able to reach the traffic in the strait.
This development comes as India has increased oil imports from Iran in September by 53%, according to Iran’s PressTV. Accordingly, India’s Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited resumed purchasing normal volumes from Tehran following a two-month gap in transactions due to shipping issues bringing levels to 294,400 barrels per day. (The shipping issues are probably now resolved as the Indian government requested state-run insurance companies provide coverage at a premium in August).