Reuters blog archive

from Global News Journal:

Politics and paranoia complicate IAEA’S work on Iran, Syria

The U.N. nuclear non-proliferation watchdog assiduously guards its impartiality as it monitors and investigates disputed activity in Iran and Syria, with suspicious Western powers impatient for the inspectors to draw conclusions.

So the International Atomic Energy Agency typically puts what have become keenly anticipated, quarterly reports on Iran and Syria through many painstaking drafts before they see the light of day, to help ensure that not a single word can be misunderstood, misinterpreted or turned to political advantage.

But the IAEA had to scramble this month to stay the course amid growing Western edginess over Iran's defiant advances towards nuclear capacity with possible bomb applications, as well as a perceived Syrian nuclear cover-up.

The U.N. watchdog had to do battle with politically charged headlines and alarmist commentary both because of unexplained references in its latest reports and things that were left out.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Israeli rhetoric on Iran can lack consistency

Veiled threats require calibration. Too explicit, and they risk spilling over into uncontrolled confrontation. Too elliptical, and their impact might be lost entirely.

When it comes to Israel's regular hints that it could attack Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent them producing a bomb, there's another liability: boredom and incredulity at all the repetition.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

A covert challenge to Iran’s nuclear ambitions?


Israeli officials aren't talking, but Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper is quoting intelligence experts and an unnamed former CIA agent as saying that Israel is waging a covert war of sabotage inside Iran in an effort to delay its suspected attempts to build a nuclear weapon.

An intelligence source in the Middle East has told Reuters the Israeli campaign includes sending letter bombs or anthrax-tainted mail to scientists involved in Iran's nuclear programme and sabotaging related infrastructure. European countries and the United States are also part of the cloak-and-dagger war, the source said.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India-U.S: advancing a transformed relationship

In the space of a decade, the United States and India have travelled far in a relationship clouded by the  Cold War when they were on opposite sides.

From U.S sanctions on India for its nuclear tests in 1998 to a civilian nuclear energy deal that opens access to international nuclear technology and finance, while allowing New Delhi to retain its nuclear weapons programme is a stunning reversal of policy and one that decisively transforms ties.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan and its nuclear weapons loom large over Obama administration

Pakistan and its nuclear weapons are back in the centre  of the U.S. foreign policy frame as a steady stream of reports from think tanks and newspapers build the case for President-elect Barack Obama to recognise and act urgently with regard to the potential threat from the troubled state.

The New York Times Magazine in an extensive article  headlined Obama's Worst Pakistan Nighmare says the biggest fear is not Islamist militants taking control of the border regions. It's what happens if the country's nuclear arsenal falls into the wrong hands. And it then takes a trip to the Chaklala garrison where the headquarters of Strategic Plans Division, the branch of the Pakistani government charged with protecting its growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, are located and led  by Khalid Kidwai, a former army general.

from Global News Journal:

Half-baked men, hooligans and other insults from North Korea

By Jon Herskovitz

The end of the Bush administration will likely bring an end to one of my favourite guilty pleasures of reporting on North Korea, which is the verbal battle between Washington and Pyongyang. Prickly North Korea will undoubtedly fire rhetorical volleys at Barack Obama's team but it may be hard to match the vitriolic language it has levelled at the administration of outgoing President George W. Bush, which in North Korean parlance is "a bunch of tricksters and political imbeciles who are the center of a plot breeding fraud and swindle".

The Bush administration came into office pledging to take a tough line toward Pyongyang to force it to end its nuclear weapons programme, stop threatening its neighbours with ballistic missiles and halt human rights abuses that are regarded as some of the worst in the world. North Korea bristles at any criticism of its leaders or its communist system. It unleashed its first insults directed at Bush weeks into his presidency in 2001, after his team labelled the North a dangerous state.   

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India, Pakistan and covert operations. All in the family?

Do read this piece by Gurmeet Kanwal, the head of the Indian Army's Centre for Land Warfare Studies, about how India should respond to the Mumbai attacks with covert operations against Pakistan.

He says that "hard military options will have only a transitory impact unless sustained over a long period. These will also cause inevitable collateral damage, run the risk of escalating into a larger war with attendant nuclear dangers and have adverse international ramifications. To achieve a lasting impact and ensure that the actual perpetrators of terrorism are targeted, it is necessary to employ covert capabilities to neutralise the leadership of terrorist organisations."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Zardari says ready to commit to no first use of nuclear weapons



















Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari says he would be ready to commit to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, in what would be a dramatic overturning of Pakistan's nuclear policy. Pakistan has traditionally seen its nuclear weapons as neutralising Indian superiority in conventional warfare, and refused to follow India's example of declaring a no first use policy after both countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998.

Zardari was speaking via satellite from Islamabad to a conference organised by the Hindustan Times when he was asked whether he was willing to make an assurance that Pakistan would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

It’s coming, I can see the nuclear glow!

The actual caption for this news photo says this officer is "guarding the railroad track..." I am not making this up.

Now, I hate to criticize the practices of a police force, but I'm not sure his position is considered the very best for guarding tracks. If you've ever seen a Looney Tunes cartoon, you can pretty much see this one coming.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, India and the rise and/or fall of the nation state

When the British left India in 1947, they bequeathed what was arguably a European notion of the nation state on a region for which the very concept was alien. I say "arguably" because anything one writes about Partition or the nation state is open to dispute. And until the financial crisis, I relegated this argument to the realm of historians -- a subject that interested me personally, but did not seem relevant today.

That was until I noticed a new debate bubbling up on the internet about the future of the nation state. Will it become more powerful as countries scramble to protect themselves from the financial crisis as George Friedman at Stratfor argues in this article?  Or does the need for global solutions to the crisis sound a death knell for the nation state, as John Robb suggests here?