Global News Journal

Axis of rejection? U.S., Iran, North Korea snub nuclear test ban pact

September 25, 2008

Pakistan's nuclear-capable Hatf 4 (Shaheen-1) missile during a test launch 

There is a saying in English that people are judged by the company they keep. If this  applied to countries, the United States would not fare well when it comes to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
 
Although Washington signed the pact, which would ban all nuclear tests if it ever comes into force, in 1996, U.S. lawmakers have never ratified it. Eight other countries with nuclear activities must ratify the treaty before it can enter into force.
 
Those other hold-out countries are China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and Pakistan. Two of those — Iran and North Korea — are members of a trio which U.S. President George W. Bush once referred to as the “axis of evil.”
 
Iraq, which was a member of Bush’s axis of evil until the U.S. invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, signed the treaty last month, though Iraqi parliament has yet to ratify it.
 
The treaty opened for signatures 12 years ago. Since then, 179 nations have signed and 144 ratified it. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno Ugarte told a news conference on the  sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York that “these nine countries must not hold the international community at bay.” 
 
Ugarte was one of some 40 foreign ministers who issued a joint statement calling on the United States, Iran, North Korea and the rest to ratify the treaty. 
 
Even veteran Hollywood Actor Michael Douglas, a U.N. messenger of peace, appeared at the United Nations in support of the CTBT alongside former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and the Costa Rican, Australian and Austrian foreign ministers. 

The Russians are coming — Caribbean Crisis redux?

September 9, 2008

The 19,000-ton nuclear-powered cruiser “Peter the Great” is seen in this June 2003 file photo. Russia said on Monday it would send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first major manoeuvres on the United States’ doorstep since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser “Peter the Great”, one of the world’s largest combat battleships. REUTERS/Stringer (RUSSIA)The thought of Russian warships cruising the waters of the Caribbean instinctively revives memories of such Cold War episodes as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

What’s next in the Russia-West crisis over Georgia?

August 26, 2008

South Ossetian servicemen fire their weapons and wave South Ossetian (C) and Russian flags as they celebrate Russia's recognition of their state as an independent state in Tskhinvali August 26, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced on Tuesday that Moscow had decided to recognise two rebel regions of Georgia as independent states, setting it on a collision course with the West. REUTERS/Sergei KarpukhinThe people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were celebrating on Tuesday after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree recognising the independence of the two regions. 

Why is Kirkuk such an obstacle for Iraq?

August 5, 2008

kirkuk.jpgIraq’s leaders have overcome many hurdles in their struggle to rebuild their country after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.  But agreeing on the fate of the “ethnic tinderbox” of oil-producing Kirkuk is a particularly testing one.

Iran Geneva talks: whose interpretation will triumph?

July 29, 2008

EU foreign policy chief Solana shakes hand with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Jalili before a meeting on nuclear issues in Geneva.REUTERS/Denis BalibouseWas the meeting in Geneva filled with “meandering” small talk? Or did the discussions between world powers and Iran begin work on an intricately woven carpet, that in time, would yield an “elegant and durable” outcome?

Is Hezbollah’s gun diplomacy working?

July 17, 2008

hezbollah.jpgHezbollah literally rolled out the red carpet to welcome home five prisoners released by Israel in a U.N.-mediated exchange deal. Securing the release of the last five Lebanese held by Israel was a major triumph for the group, which in turn handed over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured in a 2006 raid into Israel.

Talking with the Axis of Evil

July 17, 2008

george-w-bush.jpg Is the United States going soft on Iran?

 In the past President George W. Bush accused Tehran of belonging to an “axis of evil”, compared negotiations with its president to appeasing Adolf Hitler, and warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would lead to World War Three.

Russia’s Cold War anger over U.S. shield: misjudged?

July 10, 2008

Signing of missile defence treaty

Russia’s angry response to an accord between Washington and Prague on building part of a U.S. missile defence shield in the Czech Republic is reminiscent of the rhetoric of the Cold War. Although Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says Moscow still wants talks on the missile shield, his Foreign Ministry has threatened a “military-technical” response if the shield is deployed.

Iran – a young revolution with plenty of life?

July 7, 2008

khatami.jpgIn the late 1990s, not long after pro-reform politician Mohammad Khatami swept to a landslide victory in the Iranian presidential elections, some Western observers started wondering if this was the step that would herald a collapse of the Islamic Republic — rather like the Soviet Union tumbled on Mikhail Gorbachev’s watch a decade earlier.

Iran’s nuclear policy: what lies beneath?

July 2, 2008

khamenei1.jpgThere is a running joke among Western journalists, diplomats and other foreigners based in Iran who have the task of trying to understand what is going on behind the scenes: the longer you stay here, the more opaque Iranian policy making becomes.