The independent resource on global security

Expert Comments

3 Sep. 2013: Sweden's future involvement in Afghanistan

Theresa Höghammar


The visit of United States President Barack Obama to Stockholm this week presents the Swedish Government with an opportunity to discuss urgent foreign policy issues, including Sweden’s future engagement in Afghanistan. Unlike the other Nordic countries, Sweden has yet to sign a bilateral agreement with Afghanistan and it remains unclear whether it will continue to provide a support mission which includes combat elements after 2014. SIPRI’s Theresa Höghammar outlines the factors that are likely to influence Sweden’s decision on its future involvement in Afghanistan. 

30 Aug. 2013: The Syria vote in the British parliament

Dr Ian Anthony


On 29 August parliamentarians in the United Kingdom defeated a government motion that would have opened the way for a military strike against the Syrian regime of President Bashir al‑Assad in response to its use of chemical weapons on civilians. This was the first such defeat on an issue of war and peace in over 150 years. What preliminary conclusions can be made on the international significance of the vote?

The challenges ahead for Iran's new President

Bruce Koepke

The election of cleric Hassan Rouhani as the seventh president of the Islamic Republic of Iran confirmed both the unpredictability and the enduring adaptability of Iran's political landscape.

17 July 2013: Shadow trade: how North Korea's barter trade violates United Nations sanctions

Hugh Griffiths and Lawrence Dermody

Barter trade in essential goods and long-standing diplomatic relations are key to understanding the most recent attempted violation of the United Nations arms embargo on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea).

17 June 2013: Access to shipping companies’ data could help turn the tide against maritime smugglers

Lawrence Dermody, Aaron Dunne and Hugh Griffiths

Every year nearly half a billion shipping containers are transported across the globe. These movements are the lifeblood of global trade, and yet secreted within a relatively small number of containers are illegal consignments of drugs, hazardous waste, counterfeit goods, dual-use items destined for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes, and small arms and light weapons that end up in the hands of terrorists or fuel civil wars.

Realizing the full potential of the Proliferation Security Initiative

Aaron Dunne

The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) High-level Policy Group Meeting in Poland this week marks the 10th anniversary of the PSI’s founding. It is also the first time in five years that all PSI participants have gathered to collectively influence its future.

A more inclusive Arctic Council faces new challenges

Kristofer Bergh, Linda Jakobson and Ekaterina Klimenko

The Arctic Council's ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, this week highlighted the global interest in the Arctic region. The fact that six non-Arctic states (China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore) were granted permanent observer status indicates an opening up of the Council to the world and signifies a breakthrough that rejects ideas of Arctic isolationism.

11 Mar. 2013: The challenge of implementing the new sanctions against North Korea

Lawrence Dermody

Following North Korea’s third nuclear test explosion on 12 February, and after three weeks of negotiations, the United Nations Security Council has agreed on a new round of sanctions against North Korea. In response North Korea has threatened to carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes and cancel the armistice agreement that halted the Korean War.

12 Feb. 2013: Testing times in North Korea

Shannon N. Kile


After weeks of speculation, North Korea appears to have fulfilled its pledge to conduct a third nuclear weapon test. According to the North’s official news agency, an underground nuclear explosion was carried out in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri test site in the north-east of the country. North Korea previously conducted two nuclear tests at the site (in 2006 and in 2009), although the first test was widely viewed as a failure.

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Parchin: questions and concerns

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran failed again in two days of intensive talks held in Tehran this week to secure a deal to unblock the IAEA's long-stalled investigation into alleged atom bomb research in Iran. Agency inspectors were also refused access to visit a large military complex at Parchin that they have sought to visit for nearly a year. As tensions mount, it is worth considering why the Parchin visit has become such a hot-button issue in the dispute and whether it is really so important for addressing concerns about Iranian nuclear activities with possible military dimensions.