With its repeated admissions of an ongoing nuclear weapons development programme utilising highly enriched uranium, and with an alarmingly advanced missile launching capability, North Korea is at the fulcrum of a crisis that while raising the spectre of nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula also impacts the very foundations of security in northeast Asia. Despite this brinkmanship, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman assured on May 8, 2005, "our will to denuclearise the Korean peninsula and seek a negotiated solution to it still remains unchanged."
The gratitude expressed by the JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik in his recent visit to Islamabad has caused a major flutter on both sides of the Indo-Pak border. On Monday (June 13) Mr. Malik acknowledged the role played by Pakistan's current Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed at the height of the terrorism scourge in Kashmir and this was at a public function attended by many Pakistani luminaries.
As anticipated, the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) Review Conference held at the UN in New York (May 2-27) ended acrimoniously with no final agreed document among the 188 state parties who are signatories to the treaty that came into force in 1970. This dissonance is in marked contrast to the Rev Cons of 1995 and 2000 when there was significant consensus about the commitments that the nuclear weapon states and the non-nuclear fraternity were willing to undertake in the furtherance of nuclear proliferation.
Recent wars have proved that observation from space is an integral part of modern day conflict. Space is considered the fourth dimension of warfare. In all these wars, American space forces had an asymmetric advantage over their enemy — particularly in the arena of space reconnaissance and navigation. Now it appears that the Bush administration wants to enhance this asymmetry by putting offensive and defensive weapons into outer space.
In a predictable policy statement, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation, Andrew Sammel, remarked at the just concluded NPT Review Conference that India should eventually sign the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. He asserted: “The situation in South Asia (also) poses unique challenges. Let me reiterate that the United States remains committed to NPT universality.” But at the same time he also highlighted the fact that neither India nor Pakistan may join the Treaty for the foreseeable future.
The results of the second round of elections in Iran's ninth Presidential elections, announced June 24, are not unexpected given that the first round held on June 17 revealed that the victorious President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a much greater appeal for the average Iranian voter than his opponent, the former Iranian President and pragmatic cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Japan’s relations with India are at crossroads, even as we recently completed 53 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties. The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi recently as part of his four-nation tour which took him to South Asia and Europe proved to be an apt opportunity for both countries to carve strategies to solidify ties for the future. The significance of Koizumi’s visit cannot be understated considering the fact that this is the first visit by a Japanese head of state after a hiatus of nearly half a decade.
As the Karakoram Highway reopened on May 2, 2005, for traffic between China and Pakistan, the area surrounding it continues to be tense. The Northern Areas (NA) of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir continues to be in turmoil since the assassination of Shia leader Aga Ziauddin by gunmen in Gilgit in January this year. In a case that was clearly indicative of rising sectarian intolerance, fifteen people were killed by the rampaging mobs before some modicum of governance was restored. A large number of government buildings were set on fire and a number of officials and their families were attacked.
The agenda of the NPT Rev Con, currently underway in New York, has now been finalized. Moreover, the Chairman of the Rev Con, Ambassador Sergio Duarte of Brazil has also been able to finalize upon the three Main Committees (MC) and the three Subsidiary Bodies (SB). These three subsidiary bodies will look into three important issues: practical steps towards disarmament (SB1), regional issues including the issue of Middle East (SB2) and the issue of withdrawal from the NPT (SB3).
Ms Shirin Tahir-Kheli, the special adviser to the US government on UN reforms, will be in Delhi this week, beginning Monday, and clearly of the 101 proposals in six different areas made by the High Level Panel, the one that will attract the most attention will be the question of the Security Council expansion – and India's status in the matter along with that of Japan, Germany and Brazil -- the so-called G 4.