Global Insider: U.S.-South Korea Nuclear Agreement

South Korea and the United States recently began a review of their bilateral nuclear energy agreement that expires in 2014. In an e-mail interview, Mark Hibbs, senior associate in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Nuclear Policy Program, discussed U.S.-South Korea civil-nuclear cooperation. WPR: What is the status quo in terms of U.S.-South Korean nuclear cooperation? Mark Hibbs: On the basis of a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement from 1974, South Korea has built 14 of its 20 nuclear-power reactors with the help of U.S. industry and government agencies. The agreement permitted U.S. firms to supply technology, equipment and fuel for […]

Ukraine Follows the ‘Turkey Model’

There’s an inherent risk involved in taking at face value the policy declarations of a country’s leader. My general rule of thumb is to do so when the declaration in question supports an argument I’m trying to defend. And that’s certainly the case when it comes to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s description of Ukraine’s approach to its foreign policy posture: After his first meeting with the European Union, Mr. Yanukovich contrasted past disputes with Russia with the way in which he said Ukraine is now working — “in the spirit of partnership in the triangle of Russia-Europe-Ukraine.” But it’s worth […]

Global Insider: Mexico-Brazil Economic Integration

Brazil and Mexico recently agreed to formally pursue closer trade ties in the form of a Strategic Economic Integration Agreement. In an e-mail interview, Sean Goforth, a teaching associate in international political economy at Coastal Carolina University and a Latin American blogger for the Foreign Policy Association, discussed Brazil-Mexico economic relations. WPR: How would you characterize economic relations between Brazil and Mexico? Sean Goforth: In a word: vacuous. Each nation has liberalized its economy over the past 20 years, in recognition of the benefits of international trade, but they have largely kept their backs turned toward one another. Mexico has […]

Global Insider: Chile-Argentina Relations

In early October, Chile delivered an official letter of complaint to Argentina over Buenos Aires’ decision to grant asylum to Sergio Apablaza Guerra, a Chilean ex-guerilla fighter. In an e-mail interview, Council of the Americas’ Senior Director of Policy Christopher Sabatini discusses Chile-Argentina relations. WPR: What is the historical context of Chile-Argentina relations? Christopher Sabatini: Relations between Argentina and Chile have never been smooth, but the two Southern Cone countries have always managed to avoid outright conflict. Since both countries achieved their independence from Spain, there have been minor territorial disputes along their shared border through Patagonia. The most significant […]

WPR on France 24: The World Last Week

I had the pleasure of participating last Friday in France 24’s panel discussion program, The World This Week, along with the IHT’s Eric Pfanner, Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey and the AFP’s David Clarke. The topics were the G-20 summit, Ireland’s debt crisis, the newly formed Iraqi government and George W. Bush’s return to the spotlight. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here.

The G-20 Summit and the ‘Weakened Obama’ Narrative

As the current political narrative has it, President Barack Obama has been weakened by the midterm elections. So it should come as no surprise that his failure to sell Congress’ version of the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement is a reflection of Obama’s weakened position, rather than, say, a reflection of Congress’ unrealistic expectations of what trade concessions other countries are willing to make in the current dismal economic environment. The same latent theme runs through much of the coverage of Obama’s tepid performance at the G-20 summit, although it is not as pronounced. So be it, narratives are often […]

Global Insider: Asia-EU Relations

Asia and the European Union held their biannual interregional gathering, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), in Brussels last month. In an e-mail interview, Jonas Parello-Plesner, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, discussed relations between Asia and the EU. WPR: What are the major issues and obstacles driving economic relations between the two regions? Jonas Parello-Plesner: The main driver of cooperation is economic. Asia and particularly China are Europe’s largest trading partners, with the two regions intertwined as part of the global supply chain. That is illustrated by the biannual ASEM summit, which unites 49 countries and 60 […]

Global Insider: Argentina’s Nuclear Program

Argentina recently announced that it will relaunch its uranium-enrichment program, as part of the country’s ongoing return to nuclear power. In an e-mail interview, W. Alejandro Sanchez, a research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, discussed the history and significance of Argentina’s nuclear program. WPR: What is the historical context of Argentina’s nuclear program? W. Alejandro Sanchez: Argentina’s nuclear program dates back to its last military government (1976-1983). At the time there were reports that Buenos Aires was aggressively pushing for a nuclear program with the goal of building nuclear weapons. In part, this was a response to interstate […]

Global Insider: U.S.-Taiwan Trade Relations

U.S. and Taiwanese officials announced last month that the two will resume suspended free trade talks as early as this year. In an e-mail interview, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, discusses the current state of U.S.-Taiwan trade relations. WPR: What have been the obstacles holding up this deal? Rupert Hammond-Chambers: Talks on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the U.S. and Taiwan had been on hold for three years prior to the Sept. 29 announcement. The impasse was primarily due to disagreements over U.S. beef exports. It was the second time in a decade that […]

Global Insider: EU-South Africa Trade Relations

At a summit in late-September 2010, the European Union and South Africa both expressed interest in concluding protracted negotiations over closer trade ties. In an e-mail interview, Stephen Hurt, senior lecturer in international relations at Oxford Brookes University, discusses relations between the EU and South Africa. WPR: What is the historic context of EU-South Africa relations, and where do they stand today? Stephen Hurt: Coordinated EU policy toward South Africa dates back to the mid-1970s, a time when foreign policy was usually seen as the preserve of EU member states. The two main initiatives during the apartheid era were a […]

Sarkozy’s Human Rights Pirhouette

It’s pretty rare that a politician does an about-face as flagrant and publicly documented as French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s stance on human rights in the conduct of foreign policy. Here he is back in the summer of 2007, just before his first meeting with Russia’s then-President Vladimir Putin: Mr. Sarkozy has promised to confront Mr. Putin about human rights violations in Chechnya and about the slaying last October of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who wrote scathingly of the Russian president. Here he is yesterday before his meeting in Paris with Chinese President Hu Jintao: “China should not be seen as […]

Global Insider: Burma’s Border Security

Burma’s border security is increasingly an issue of concern for its neighbors, with armed rebel groups reportedly mobilizing in Burmese border regions. In an e-mail interview, Nicholas Farrelly, an associate investigator in the Center of Excellence in Policing and Security at the Australian National University, explains the significance of border security in Burma’s relations with its neighbors. WPR: What are the main sources of insecurity along Burma’s borders? Nicholas Farrelly: Burma shares borders with five countries — Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. Often the consideration of border issues focuses on the Burma-Thailand border, which is the most accessible and […]

Russia-Japan Kurils Dispute and Asian Hedging

Given the timing of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Kuril Islands, it’s hard to see it as anything other than an intentional effort to destabilize Japan, and particularly Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Coming in the aftermath of Tokyo’s standoff with Beijing over the Senkaku Islands, it reinforces the perception of a weak Japan unable to make its territorial claims respected. The fact that this was a peripheral and largely frozen dispute that had until now not seriously affected improving bilateral relations adds to that impression. The move also comes in the aftermath of Russia’s refusal to support South […]

Global Insider: China’s Space Program

China launched its second lunar probe in late-September, with its mission being to find a landing site for a lunar rover expected to launch before 2013. In an e-mail interview, Gregory Kulacki, senior analyst and China project manager in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, discusses China’s space program. WPR: What is the status of China’s space program? Gregory Kulacki: China is more or less on schedule with their plans to complete a permanently occupied space station by 2020. The plan was first formulated in the mid-1980s and funded in the early 1990s. China is also […]

Global Insider: Pakistan’s Baloch Separatists

Pakistanbanned five militant groupsand froze their assets in Balochistan in September, following a government initiative to target separatists in the unstable region. In an e-mail interview, Tahir Kamran, visiting Iqbal Fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Wolfson College, discusses the separatist movement in Balochistan. WPR: What is the background and current status of the separatist movement in Balochistan? Tahir Kamran: Insurgency is a recurring phenomenon in Balochistan, one that, according to hardcore Baloch nationalists, dates back to as early as 1948, when the princely state of Qalat (comprising a major part of present-day Balochistan) was forcibly acceded to the state […]

Global Insider: Israel-Greece Relations

Israel is increasingly turning to Greece to compensate for the decline in its relationship with Turkey. Israel recently held air force exercises in Greek air space, and the two countries have signed a civilian aviation agreement. In an e-mail interview, Efraim Inbar, professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, explains the growing relationship between Israel and Greece. WPR: What is the historical military and political relationship between Israel and Greece? Efraim Inbar: Politico-military cooperation between Greece and Israel is a new phenomenon. Greece has been one of the least-friendly states in […]