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The NATO Global Hub

This blog is republished here as part of our special holiday selection.

NATO headquarters

NATO headquarters. Photo: Utenriksdept/flickr.

WASHINGTON, DC – What should an alliance do when its leading member and dominant pillar decides to shift its focus to the other side of the world? NATO leaders have been grappling with this question since US President Barack Obama’s announcement of his administration’s “pivot” to Asia last year compelled them to examine the Alliance’s global role.

NATO leaders have examined their approach to managing relations with countries, such as China and Russia, that still view NATO as a potential threat rather than as a genuine partner. And they have had to consider whether to engage in more missions beyond the North Atlantic, like that in Afghanistan, where 22 countries – including El Salvador, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, and Tonga – have deployed forces under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. » More

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Why is Russia Favored by Mongolia and North Korea?

This blog is republished here as part of our special holiday selection.

Border between Russia and Mongolia. Photo: Geoff Sowrey/flickr

Russia is favored by Mongolia and North Korea just as the United States is welcomed by some of its Southeast Asian partners. At the same time, Mongolia and especially North Korea provide opportunities for Russia to raise its stakes in Northeast Asian matters.

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and relative inattention by the Kremlin in the 1990s, Ulaanbaatar and Pyongyang never abandoned their attempts to renew ties with Russia. High-ranking political and military officials constantly made calls to advance political, military, economic, and cultural ties with Moscow. Positive responses came after a decade, under Russian President Putin. Putin’s visit to the DPRK and Mongolia in 2000 demonstrated the Kremlin’s new emphasis on two its former allies, whose industrial facilities and enterprises were built with Soviet assistance and technology. Their treaties of mutual assistance with Russia were replaced by treaties of good neighborliness in 1993 (Mongolia) and 2001 (North Korea). And the $11 billion debts incurred during the Soviet era, were resolved favorably for Mongolians in 2003 and North Koreans in 2012. As a result, Russia seems to have secured its stake in key infrastructure development projects. In North Korea, Russia will invest in the trans-Korean railway, a gas pipeline, special economic zones, and education. Russia will invest in the trans-Mongolian railway, its extension, and the mining of uranium and aluminum in Mongolia. Economic cooperation with Mongolia and North Korea will play an important role in Putin’s agenda to develop Russia’s long-neglected Far East and Siberia and to secure Chinese and East Asian markets for its mineral exports. » More

Time to Test Iran

This blog is republished here as part of our special holiday selection.

Satellite imagery of suspected Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility in Iran

Satellite imagery of suspected Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility in Iran. Photo: Podknox/flickr.

NEW YORK – Most of the debate about how to address Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear-weapons capacity focuses on two options. The first is to rely on deterrence and live with an Iran that has a small nuclear arsenal or the ability to assemble one with little advance notice. The second is to launch a preventive military strike aimed at destroying critical parts of the Iranian program and setting back its progress by an estimated two or more years.

But now a third option has emerged: negotiating a ceiling on the nuclear program that would not be too low for Iran’s government and not too high for the United States, Israel, and the rest of the world.

In fact, such an option has been around for years – and in several rounds of negotiations. What has changed, however, is the context. And changes in context can be critical; indeed, what happens away from the negotiating table almost always determines the outcome of face-to-face talks. » More

Es hora de poner a prueba a Irán

Satellite imagery of suspected Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility in Iran

Satellite imagery of suspected Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility in Iran. Photo: Podknox/flickr.

NUEVA YORK – El debate sobre cómo hacer frente a los intentos de Irán de desarrollar una capacidad de fabricación de armas nucleares se centra más que nada en dos opciones. La primera es confiar en el poder de disuasión y resignarse a convivir con un Irán que posea un pequeño arsenal nuclear o la capacidad de crearlo con poco preaviso. La segunda es lanzar un ataque militar preventivo para destruir componentes críticos del programa iraní y de ese modo retardar su avance (las estimaciones indican que se lo podría demorar por al menos unos dos años). » More

أوان اختبار إيران

Satellite imagery of suspected Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility in Iran

Satellite imagery of suspected Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility in Iran. Photo: Podknox/flickr.

نيويورك ــ إن أغلب النِقاش الدائر حول كيفية التعامل مع محاولات إيران الرامية إلى تطوير قدراتها في مجال تصنيع الأسلحة النووية يركز على خيارين. الأول يتلخص في الاعتماد على الردع والتعايش مع إيران التي تمتلك ترسانة نووية صغيرة أو القدرة على تجميع السلاح النووي في فترة قصيرة. ويدور الخيار الثاني حول شن ضربة عسكرية وقائية تهدف إلى تدمير الأجزاء الحرجة من البرنامج الإيراني وعرقلة التقدم الذي أحرزته إيران بما يقدر بنحو عامين أو أكثر.

ولكن الآن ظهر خيار ثالث: التفاوض على سقف للبرنامج النووي، على ألا يكون هذا السقف منخفضاً بدرجة كبيرة بالنسبة لحكومة إيران أو مرتفعاً بدرجة أعلى مما ينبغي بالنسبة للولايات المتحدة، وإسرائيل، وبقية العالم.

الواقع أن هذا الخيار كان متاحاً لسنوات ــ وفي جولات عِدة من المفاوضات. ولكن ما تغير هو السياق. وأي تغيير في السياق قد يكون حاسما؛ بل إن ما يجري بعيداً عن طاولة المفاوضات يكاد يحدد في كل الأحوال تقريباً نتيجة المحادثات المباشرة.

ويتمثل أكثر التغيرات التي طرأت على السياق أهمية في تدهور الاقتصاد الإيراني بسرعة كبيرة. فقد أصبحت العقوبات المالية والمرتبطة بالنفط التي تم تنفيذها في الأشهر والسنوات الماضية موجعة إلى حد كبير. فهذه العقوبات ليست مصممة لعرقلة البرنامج النووي الإيراني بشكل مباشر، بل إنها تهدف إلى تضخيم الثمن الذي يتعين على زعماء إيران أن يتكبدوه نظير إصرارهم على ملاحقة طموحاتهم النووية. وكانت الفكرة (أو بدقة أكبر الأمل) تتلخص في أن الزعامات الإيرانية سوف تختار البقاء إذا اضطرت إلى الاختيار بين بقاء النظام أو امتلاك الأسلحة النووية. » More

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