Dec 26, 2019

China, Russia and Iran to hold joint naval drills in Gulf of Oman

Iranian soldiers take part in "National Persian Gulf Day" in the Strait of Hormuz in April 2019. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

China, Russia and Iran announced they will hold joint naval drills in the Gulf of Oman from Dec. 27 to 30, AFP reports.

Why it matters: The drills come after the U.S. withdrew from a key international nuclear deal with Iran — and as it faces down geopolitical threats from both Russia and China, especially after the end of a key Cold War missile treaty.

What they're saying: A senior Iranian armed forces spokesman said the drills would "stabilize security" and increase "international commerce security in the region."

  • Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian added that the naval drills would "deepen exchange and cooperation between the navies of the three countries."

Worth noting: The Gulf of Oman is only a short distance away from the Strait of Hormuz, which has been a site of contention over the passage of oil tankers between Iran and some Western nations.

Go deeper: Security agencies warn Russia, China, Iran aim to interfere in 2020 election

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Russia's new hypersonic weapon becomes operational

Photo: Alexei Nikolsky/TASS via Getty Images

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed Friday that the Avangard, the country's new intercontinental hypersonic weapon, became operational and entered combat duty, per the AP.

Why it matters: Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized that Russia is the only country armed with hypersonic weapons. He also has compared the success of the Avangard's development to the Soviet Union's first satellite launch in 1957.

Go deeperArrowDec 27, 2019

Trump responds to missile strikes: "Iran appears to be standing down"

President Trump said in a White House address Wednesday that Americans should be "extremely grateful and happy" because Iranian strikes hours earlier resulted in no casualties, and Iran now "appears to be standing down."

Why it matters: Iran's strikes came in retaliation for the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, a stunning event that led to immediate fears of war. Trump defended that decision and announced new sanctions on Iran, but did not signal new military escalation.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

Iran vows to enrich uranium "without restrictions"

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: Iranian Supreme Leader Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran's government announced Sunday that it would no longer abide by any limits on its enrichment of uranium, according to Iranian state TV.

Why it matters: This could be the final blow to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, raising the risk that Iran will move toward a nuclear weapon. However, Iran has said it will continue to allow inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and is prepared to return to compliance with the deal if the U.S. removes sanctions.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 5, 2020