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Expert Comments

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.

The IAEA and Parchin: do the claims add up?

Robert Kelley

While the International Atomic Energy Agency has done an excellent job in verifying the nuclear material production activities in Iran’s uranium enrichment plants, it also appears to be willing to risk its technical credibility by insisting on visiting a military site called Parchin, near Tehran.

Explosive potential of North Korean missiles still more diplomatic than nuclear

Siemon T. Wezeman and Vitaly Fedchenko

Today's launch by North Korea of an Unha-3 (or Taepodong-2) long-range rocket is already drawing strong negative reactions from many governments. However successful today's launch was, it does not mean that North Korea has, or is anywhere near having, the capability to launch a long-range ballistic missile strike, especially a nuclear-armed one.

15 Nov. 2012: China’s new leaders - looming domestic crises, not ideologies, will steer the agenda

Bernt Berger


This morning (15 November) the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party officially endorsed the members of the new Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top leadership body. Despite the secrecy, speculation and rumors in the run-up to the announcement, the make up of China’s fifth generation of leaders was predictable. Although it reflects the outcome of protracted behind the scenes power struggles, generally speaking the result might have little impact on the government’s political directions.

11 Oct. 2012: Turkey’s interception of a Syrian passenger aircraft

Edin Omanovic


The interception on 10 October 2012 of a Syrian passenger aircraft travelling from Moscow to Damascus was the latest in a long line of actions taken by Turkey to stem the flow of arms across its territory. Given the current international impasse over the conflict in Syria, practical measures such as the interception of aircraft will become increasingly important for states seeking to restrict Syrian Government forces' access to military-related goods from external sources.

21 Sep. 2012: Where to next for China and the European Union?

Oliver Bräuner


On 20 September 2012 Chinese and European leaders met for the 15th European Union–China High Level Summit in Brussels. It was Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s tenth and final appearance at the yearly gathering. Despite the current economic and political turbulence in both Asia and Europe both sides focused instead on consolidating the progress that has been made in the past 10 years. Nevertheless, the question remains: where is the EU–China relationship heading?

22 Sep. 2012: Rise in insider attacks against foreign soldiers in Afghanistan

Dr Bruce Koepke


An escalation in insider attacks, also known as ‘green-on-blue’ incidents, signifies a new trend of violence that is having a serious impact on the military strategy of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). These attacks have been perpetrated against foreign soldiers (US, ISAF and NATO) and civilian contractors by Afghans either affiliated with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) or wearing ANSF uniforms.