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Expert Comments

1 Oct. 2013: Iranian–US engagement should focus on more than the nuclear issue

Dr Bruce Koepke


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s appearance at the UN General Assembly last week, his historic telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama and the earlier meeting between the Iranian and US foreign ministers confirm the two countries’ efforts to seriously re-engage in dialogue on Iran's nuclear programme. However, the two countries should not ignore the other issues on which they can fruitfully cooperate, writes SIPRI’s Bruce Koepke.

11 Sep. 2013: Disarming Syria: An opportunity for Russian leadership


In comparison to the discussion about how the United States might, or might not, respond to allegations that the regime of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians on 21 August, there has been relatively little focus on the responsibilities and credibility of other actors. SIPRI's Ian Anthony argues that the current Russian proposal, whereby Syria places its chemical weapons under international control, presents an opportunity for Russia to demonstrate global leadership. 

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.