Campaigning on a nationalist vision of the United States as a country being misused by other countries, Donald Trump promised to bring upon significant changes to the international order. His primary tool for achieving this has been an abandonment of multilateral arrangements. Under Trump’s leadership, the US withdrew from the Universal Postal Union, the UNESCO, and has effectively blocked the dispute resolution mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The least the international community needs is a return to a nuclear arms race. We have already experienced it during the Cold War, at the height of which it is estimated that 60,000 nuclear weapons were in the arsenals (mostly) of the United States and the Soviet Union. These weapons could have destroyed our planet many times over! Today, it is estimated that the nuclear weapons in those arsenals are around 15,000. This is a “dramatic” reduction, indeed, which, however, does not allow us to sleep peacefully.
After Pyongyang has conducted its sixth nuclear test and North Korean missiles continue to fly over Japanese territory and territorial waters, tensions over North Korea have reached a fever pitch. Analysts and commentators fear that the exchange of hostile rhetoric between Kim Jong–un and US President Donald Trump may soon get out of control. Just days after Trump threatened in his UN General Assembly speech that the United States might “totally destroy” North Korea, on September 23 Pyongyang’s Foreign Minister replied in kind.
As the latest and worst North Korea crisis in six decades continues to rage, the need to think outside the box grows more urgent. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the global community appear trapped in a vicious circle, like a malign chicken and egg. After 11 years and eight major UN resolutions, this cycle is wearily familiar. North Korea tests a ballistic missile (BM) or a nuclear device.
Understanding the current iteration of the two-decade long North Korean crisis is not easy. It is, for what of a better word, complicated. Furthermore, the fact is that it has finally imploded while Donald Trump is President. “Of all the presidents in all the world, why did you have to start a North Korean crisis with him...?” This is not an administration that lends itself to level analysis. And nor is the topic, for that matter.
Japan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe does not have what a country geographically so close to and easily within range of North Korean short and medium-range missiles should have: a plan, let alone a North Korea strategy, that goes beyond announcing that Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests are an “unacceptable provocation”.
Among all those who try to evaluate South Korea’s position in the midst of the latest sharp rise in tensions on the Korean peninsula, the best, yet striking, definition has so far been provided by someone very close to the administration, in the person of Moon Chung-in, special advisor for unification, diplomacy and national security to President Moon Jae-in.
2017 is a crucial year for Iran. In January, while the "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" (JCPOA) entered the second year of implementation, in Washington the Trump Administration took office, with the promise to “renegotiate a disastrous deal”. In May, in Tehran, the incumbent president Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a wide margin.
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Presidential elections will take place on May 19 2017 in Iran. There are six official candidates who are running for the presidency in this round who have been pre-selected by the Council of Guardians from among 1653 candidates. This means that the Council of Guardians has approved that these six persons have all the requirements, foreseen through the Constitution, to eventually become the President of the Islamic Republic.
The agreement reached in Vienna on 14 July, 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, Germany) has been greeted as an historical achievement. While offering a long-lasting negotiated solution to one of the biggest crises of the last decade, the deal represents an opportunity for a deep recalibration of the balance of power in the Middle East. It also paves the way to some sort of rapprochement between Iran and the United States. But the deal is also likely to have an impact on Iranian domestic politics, not least on its economy, which, after repeated rounds of sanctions, languishes in deep crisis.
This report aims to assess the potential effects of the deal by trying to answer the following question: what’s next for Iran, the Middle East and the countries involved in the negotiations? In particular, the report provides an assessment of the JCPOA agreed upon in Vienna. It also analyzes the impact of the deal on Iranian domestic politics as well as the consequences for its economy. In addition, it examines its effects on the balance of power in the Middle East, as well as on relations between Iran and the United States, and Iran and Russia. Finally a number of policy recommendations for the EU are provided.
The deal reached in the early hours of the morning in Geneva on 24 November was better than I had ex-pected, and better than would have been the case without France’s last-day intervention at the previous round two weeks earlier. I spent much of Sunday making the rounds of TV studios and fielding print-media interviews, explaining why opponents in Israel, the Gulf and the US Congress should overcome their scepticism.