What might Trump mean for the Korean Peninsula?

Post by Rebecca Story, Research Intern at ICSA

Whilst President-elect Donald Trump’s plans for East Asia are still largely unknown, his lack of foreign-policy experience and  intentions to renegotiate trade and defence deals have led some to suggest that his presidency may contribute to destabilisation across the region, and particularly on the Korean Peninsula. Negative consequences for the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) economy, uncertainty over defence and heightened tensions with regards to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are all possible features of the ROK’s post-Trump future.

During his election campaign, Trump asserted that he would decrease US defence spending in the ROK and demand a greater ROK contribution to the shared costs of defence against the DPRK threat. With the cost-sharing agreement between the ROK and the US up for renegotiation in 2017, these remarks raise concerns that a Trump presidency will lead to a weakening of the alliance between the two countries and exacerbate instability on the Korean Peninsula. Continue reading

The Strongman Bond: Trump and Erdogan

Post by Ed Roberts, Research Intern at ICSA

A Trump administration will likely see a warming of relations between the USA, Turkey, and Russia. With regards to Turkey, Trump has praised Erdogan, stating in an interview with the New York Times, that the suppression of the coup on July 15th was ‘quite impressive from the standpoint of existing government.’ Continue reading

A Nuclear Powered Argentine Submarine?

Argentine Defense Minsters have repeatedly claimed that Argentina has a viable nuclear submarine program underway. The program has been stated to use the CAREM reactor, but it appears nobody told the CNEA, the Argentine Nuclear Agency responsible for the reactor. The civilian nuclear energy agency states that the CAREM reactor is a modular power plant that will be used for power generation in remote regions, power for high-energy use industry and desalination. CAREM-25 is Argentina’s first indigenous designed and built power plant. The reactor building is currently under construction near the town of Lima in Buenos Aires Province.

What is the origin of the difference of the stated purpose of the CAREM reactor between the civilian and military establishment? The projected optimism of the political establishment may be due to competition with the Brazilian submarine program. Can an Argentine politician publically admit to being left in the dust by the Brazilians?

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Can Turkey Achieve its Domestic Nuclear Ambitions?

Post by Holly Mortimer, Research Intern at the International Centre for Security Analysis

As Turkey’s nuclear energy programme slowly progresses with the ceremonial ground breaking  for the first Russian-built plant at Akkuyu, and the ratification of the  intergovernmental agreement with Japan for the second plant at Sinop, President Erdogan and other senior government officials continue to promote the idea of a fully domestic nuclear capability. This ambition is in line with their wider domestic agenda ahead of the 2023 centenary of the Turkish Republic; widely interpreted as an attempt by the Justice and Development party (AKP) to drum up nationalistic support.

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United Arab Emirates: The Middle East’s Nuclear “Golden Child”?

Post by Rachel Hoffman,  Research Intern at the International Centre for Security Analysis.

A Google search for the phrase ‘middle east nuclear program’ yields numerous articles and discussions on the nuclear programmes of Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Unsurprisingly, Iran is the most prominent search result given the current negotiations between the country and the P5+1 over its nuclear programme. Interest in Israel’s highly suspected but as yet unacknowledged nuclear weapons programme has risen recently. This followed a proposal at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference that would encourage steps to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon free zone, potentially compromising Israel’s strategic ambiguity. And recent comments by a handful of high-ranking officials suggesting Saudi Arabia may pursue nuclear weapons to combat Iran’s growing influence have captured international attention.

However, for those closely watching Middle Eastern nuclear programmes, one country seems conspicuously absent from these results – the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As of June 6th 2015, the one mention of the UAE’s rapidly developing nuclear energy programme in the first 32 pages of Google results is on page five, indicating how little attention the country’s nuclear ambitions have received within broader public discourse and popular media. The irony of this lack of attention is that the UAE is arguably pursuing the most transparent and well-documented Middle Eastern nuclear programme to date.

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