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from Afghan Journal:

Pakistan still the greatest worry, says Biden

(Outside the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah)

(Outside the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told CNN this week that his biggest worry was not Afghanistan, not Iraq and not even Iran which is hurtling into a fresh confrontation with the West over its nuclear programme.  The big concern was Pakistan with  its nuclear weapons and  a radicalised section of society.

"It's a big country. it has nuclear weapons that are able to be deployed.  It has a real significant minority of radicalised population. It is not a completely functional democracy in the sense we think about it.  And so..... that's my greatest concern."

Biden's remarks are unlikely to go down well in Pakistan, which bristles at being  lumped with dangerous countries .  Indeed the vice-president has spoken just when reports were emerging that the United States and Pakistan were starting to feel more comfortable with each other after a rocky couple of years.  Pakistan has won praise from U.S. military leaders for its successful operation in the difficult terrain of  South Waziristan. It has  also sought a key role in a resolution of the Afghan war, offering to mediate with Taliban factions operating from its soil.

Indeed, a top expert has suggested that this is perhaps the time to offer Pakistan a civilian nuclear  deal on the lines of the one agreed to with India, to win its complete cooperation in the war on terrorism.  C. Christian Fair, a professor at Georgetown University, says  nuclear cooperation could deliver results where billions of dollars of American aid have failed. "More so than conventional weapons or large sums of cash, a conditions-based civilian nuclear deal may be able to diminish Pakistani fears of U.S. intentions while allowing Washington to leverage these gains for greater Pakistani cooperation on nuclear proliferation and terrorism,"  she wrote in an article in The Wall Street Journal

from Global News Journal:

Does Siemens’ move send a message on Iran sanctions?

nuclearWhen it comes to further sanctions on Iran, the clock is ticking relentlessly, even if those leading the drive -- the United States, Britain, Germany and France -- are giving little away in terms of timing or what might be targeted under any new, U.N.-agreed package.

Still, companies that do business with Iran appear to be getting the message that time is running out.

from The Great Debate UK:

Breaking the disarmament deadlock: challenges for 2010

JohnDuncanJohn Duncan is the UK Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament. He comments regularly via Twitter and on his own Blog. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Those involved in multilateral arms control and disarmament face a challenging year.

from From Reuters.com:

Graphic: Iran’s nuclear program

- Click here to view more stories on Iran.

from India Insight:

What does Nobel for Obama mean for India?

Obama has won the Nobel Peace prize.The citation commends him for calling for a nuclear-weapon free world, emphasising the role of international institutions and preferring dialogue.Less than a year into his presidency he has yet to implement much of his programme."For the time being Obama's just making proposals. But sometimes the Nobel committee awards the prize to encourage responsible action," said Poland’s Lech Walesa, a Nobel Peace Laureate.What does it mean for India to have the most powerful man in the world honoured for his policies?The policies of the Obama administration are different from those of the George W. Bush era when multilateralism was seen as a liability.Bush’s ambassador to the U.N. was John R. Bolton whose scepticism towards multilateralism was well known.Yet Bush helped India get a crucial waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group and was described as the friendliest U.S. President India has had.Obama on the other hand has called for strengthening nuclear non-proliferation, prompting India to seek clarifications.Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, argues in a recent column that Indians find it more difficult to deal with those who they think of as American liberals than the conservatives.Will we now see a more forceful and active Obama on issues like non-proliferation that India is wary of ?

from FaithWorld:

Obama’s Nobel citation speaks of shared values – is hope on top?

obama-at-unThe statement announcing the Nobel Peace Prize for U.S. President Barack Obama says that "his diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population". (Photo: Obama at the United Nations, 23Sept 2009/Kevin Lamarque)

Is there actually a set of values and attitudes shared by most people around the world? It would be interesting to know exactly what the Norwegian Nobel Committee meant by this. Are they talking about some vague form of world political consensus or even global ethics? The citation text mentions Obama's "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons" and his preference multilateral diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations. But none of these efforts has yet borne much fruit.

from Breakingviews:

Iran, the day-after problem

The drums of war are beating in the Middle East. Proponents of a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities have intensified their campaign in recent weeks, arguing the military option is the only way to ensure the country does not build a nuclear weapon.

But the obstacles to conducting a successful strike remain immense, making it a last, improbable resort. It is such a bad option that it is no option at all. 

from Global News Journal:

Germany’s Greens celebrate victory in defeat

Sunday's federal election threw Germany's Greens into a state of disarray -- should they celebrate their best result ever or mourn the fact they failed to prevent a centre-right coalition and languished in fifth place?

"A Victory that is a Defeat", "Triumph and Bitterness", "Celebrations despite missing goal," read newspaper headlines on Monday.

from From Reuters.com:

Graphic: Iran’s ballastic missiles

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