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Expert Comments

Afghanistan: The Istanbul Process in urgent need of more attention

Richard Ghiasy

On 30–31 October China hosted the postponed fourth ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference in the framework of the Istanbul Process. Inaugurated in 2011, the Process is the only multilateral vehicle led by Afghanistan, thus permitting the country a greater say in its own affairs. Its objective is to facilitate Afghanistan’s reconstruction through interregional collaboration. To this end, and in a short period of time, the Process has successfully managed to commit 14 participating members, some of which previously had difficulty coming together, to cooperate. However, the Process is beset by a number of internal and external challenges that necessitate attention. Newly elected Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and his administration will have to designate ample human resources and diplomacy efforts to guarantee the process’ effectiveness and sustainability.

The implications of the Ebola outbreak for public health and security

Dr Peter Clevestig

The first case of Ebola outside of West Africa was confirmed in Dallas, Texas, which may be the tipping point for properly mobilizing the international community to act.

China’s protection of its overseas interests is becoming increasingly complex

Mathieu Duchâtel, Oliver Bräuner and Zhou Hang

The evacuation of Chinese citizens from Viet Nam in May 2014 and a possible new evacuation from Iraq in the next few days are just two recent examples which demonstrate that, for China, protecting its overseas interests is becoming an increasingly complex challenge.

From ending nuclear testing to detecting tsunamis and missing aircraft: the wider applications of the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Tariq Rauf

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) prohibits all nuclear explosions anywhere as an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation but is yet to come into force.

4 Apr. 2014: Guns or butter? The economics of nuclear construction workforces in Iran and South Carolina

Robert Kelley

Iran is facing increasing difficulties completing its IR-40 pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) near the town of Arak. Fortunately, Iran has agreed to suspend most construction work as part of a plan arranged with the EU3+3 negotiators. On the one hand, this means welcome cost savings for the Iranian Government. On the other hand, it could be an emergency for the local population.

Looking beyond the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit

Tariq Rauf

Some 50 heads of state and government are meeting today at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, the Netherlands, to highlight their commitment to strengthening nuclear security, and to agree on measures to prevent and combat nuclear terrorism.

3 Mar. 2014: Preventing a new division of Europe

Dr Neil John Melvin

The crisis in Ukraine poses the most serious challenge to European security since the end of the cold war, and highlights the urgent need to refashion European security so that it is capable of managing the new environment that has developed in the region. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is the only actor capable of bringing the current crisis to an end and of building long-term peace and stability in Ukraine and the wider region.

Reducing risks arising from developments in Ukraine: the role of confidence- and security-building measures

Dr Ian Anthony

The main role of the arms control agreements reached in Europe in the 1990s—along with associated politically binding confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs)—is to ensure predictability in military behaviour and promote confidence that armed forces exist only for legitimate defensive p

18 Feb. 2014: Only a pragmatic approach to Iran’s nuclear programme will yield results

Tariq Rauf

Following the November 2013 agreement in Geneva on initial measures to address Iran’s nuclear programme, negotiations begin in Vienna today on additional steps towards a comprehensive solution. In order for these negotiations to succeed, both sides will need to agree on pragmatic measures which assure the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, and which lead to the removal of all United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran.

6 Feb. 2014: Sochi Olympics will leave a questionable legacy for Caucasus conflicts

Dr Neil John Melvin


The 22nd Olympic Winter Games in Sochi have already attracted a deluge of international press coverage. The January attacks in Volgograd and reports of possible 'black widow' suicide bombers have brought the issue of terrorism and the security of the Games into focus. The Russian security authorities have established an unprecedented security and surveillance operation, with over 40 000 police and armed forces personnel involved in securing the Games. While every step is being taken to isolate participants from violence, the Games themselves have already become part of the region’s conflicts, writes SIPRI’s Neil Melvin.