Thursday 23 Sep 2021 | 22:35 | SYDNEY
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North Korea: Reaching for Armageddon

North Korea does not naturally inspire optimism. Yet the tone among expert observers of the country's missile and nuclear programs has taken an unmistakably pessimistic tilt of late. Concern is mounting at Pyongyang's rapid technical advances. The frequency, sophistication and success rate of recent

Fiji’s democracy cracks again

Last weekend Fiji's police force arrested six prominent opponents of the ruling party. Their alleged crime was breaching the Public Order Act by making remarks about the constitution at a conference convened by Pacific Dialogue, an NGO, on Fiji's Constitution Day. The arrests were nothing short of a

Why Vietnam has India in its sights

Narendra Modi is easily one of the India's most travelled prime ministers. His trip to the US in June, where he addressed Congress in English, was beneficial and ended with the declaration that India was now a 'major defense partner' of the US however more recently Modi stopped off in Vietnam on the

Quick comment: Rodger Shanahan on foreign fighters

In this quick comment, the Lowy Institute's Rodger Shanahan discusses how the uneasy co-operation between the West and Russia and Iran in the fight against Islamic State needs to continue to help combat the threat posed by foreign fighters leaving Syria and Iraq. Dr Shanahan and Lydia Khalil are the

Still time for intrigue in United Nations SG race

So far the selection process for the next UN Secretary General hasn't generated much razzle dazzle. Hopes are fading the long process will result in the appointment of the first woman to the post, for example. We are yet to see any Security Council member exercise a veto, an act that could prompt a

Indonesia's energy expansion: Delayed and uncertain

Indonesia’s ambitious 35,000 MW (megawatt) electricity expansion is falling behind schedule. How the project will be expedited in the context of organisational changes within government is unclear, as is the status of remote power delivery and progress on renewables. A decision in May by

Terrorism: It's not all in the numbers

In responding to terrorist threats (such as Islamic State's highly publicised targeting of Australian suburbs and landmarks), governments need to avoid worsening the very fear that terrorists seek to generate. One popular but flawed method of attempting to undercut this fear is to point out how few

THAAD: A turning point on the peninsula?

When the history of North Korea's arms programs is written, the key event in 2016 may well be identified not as last Friday's (or January's) nuclear test, but South Korea's decision to allow US deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile interceptor system on its soil.

The Syria (no big) peace deal

Ronald Reagan famously said of a nuclear agreement with the then Soviet Union that it was based on an attitude of 'trust, but verify'. Perhaps slightly contradictory but very realpolitik nonetheless. Thirty years later, Secretary of State John Kerry's admission that the latest Syrian cessation of

Postscript: Dealing with the North Korea nuclear threat

In May I wrote that a North Korean nuclear test was clearly imminent. Last week's test came as no surprise. The test, and North Korea’s recent missile tests, show that sanctions are not working. If nothing changes, North Korea is moving inexorably towards an operational nuclear arsenal that

G20: Time to end the circus

The dust has settled on another G20 summit, the latest held in Hangzhou, China. The small group of think tanks who follow the G20 are disappointed with the outcomes. What’s new? The G20 has been a disappointment for a number of years. Perhaps it’s time to reflect on what works and what

Taking stock of Asia’s summit season

Summit season in Asia came early in 2016. Normally, the concentration of ASEAN ministerial, the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the APEC leaders’ meeting occurs in November. As the EAS is tacked on to the ASEAN summit, APEC being hosted by Peru, and with the G20 meeting in Hangzhou in September the

Donald Trump and Northeast Asian nuclearisation

One of the great misfortunes of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is that some of the policies he has suggested do actually deserve discussion, but are now tainted by the Orange One’s lunatic style, shallowness, and lack of focus. For example, Trump has raised long-overdue issues about

Where quantum satellites fit in PLA strategy

Last month China launched the world’s first quantum communications experiment satellite 'Micius' into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert. The small satellite, named after an ancient Chinese philosopher, is tasked to establish a hack-proof communication line; a

Rodrigo Duterte's mayoral mentality

Before his first overseas trip as president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte answered a media question about his first planned meeting with President Obama, leader of the Philippines’ most important economic and security partner. It did not go well.  His (un)presidential comments

Australia stars in first edition of new ISIS magazine

The latest online magazine from Islamic State features an Australian flavour, among some other interesting aspects. First is the name change; no longer is 'Dabiq' the title (unless this masthead continues to put out editions separately); 'Rumiya' (formal Arabic for Rome) has replaced 'Dabiq'. As

Xi drives a grand bargain in China's summit season

For a country whose leaders are often loud in declaring their dislike of others meddling in their affairs, China seems very keen lately to host major international meetings that bring precisely the intense attention it usually feels uncomfortable with. There was the Asia Pacific Economic Meeting (

Laos: The US push to clean up the bombs it left behind

In news that may help Laos successfully compete for the world's attention in a week cram full of colourful leaders' meetings, the US has announced it will spend another $90 million to help clean up unexploded ordnance (UXO), a legacy of the two million tonnes of bombs the US dropped between 1964 and

Curing Mao fever

For China, 2016 is a year of anniversaries. It’s been 95 years since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), 50 years since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, and 40 years since the death of Mao Zedong, Communist China’s founding father. More than ever, the CCP is

Overlapping claims in the Timor Sea

Senator Wong urges the Australian government to commit to an international process of dispute resolution to settle the maritime border between Australia and Timor Leste. The conciliation process currently underway in The Hague goes quite some distance in this direction, providing each side with the

Why India distrusts China's One Belt One Road initiative

One of China's most ambitious economic and foreign policy projects is the so-called One Belt One Road initiative. It aims to connect the disparate regions in China's near and distant neighbourhood through a massive program of infrastructure building. It's President Xi Jinping's personal project, and

Obama at Midway: Picking and choosing the law of the sea

Earlier today US President Barack Obama traveled to Midway Atoll, located off the coast of Hawaii, to celebrate the expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a marine protected area (MPA). The monument's expansion will permanently protect pristine coral reefs, deep sea marine

Hangzhou summit: China grapples with the G20

By Tristram Sainsbury, Research Fellow and Project Director, G20 Studies Centre, and Hannah Wurf, Research Associate, G20 Studies Centre. Hosting G20 leaders in Hangzhou on 4-5 September will be an important test for China. The summit will take place towards the end of an eventful 2016, and at a

Did ET really call? Probably not

This week news media picked up a story that has been slowly percolating through the scientific community. A Russian radio telescope apparently picked up a strange signal that could possibly be artificial, and originate from an extraterrestrial civilization. The signal came from the direction of a

World Bank, IMF and ADB leadership: The long wait for change

Despite pressure for change from emerging economies, the major international economic institutions remain disproportionately controlled by representatives from advanced economies. The World Bank has always been led by an American, the IMF by a European, and the Asian Development Bank by a Japanese

Instability just a stroke away in Central Asia

Over the weekend, Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan, was rushed to hospital after reportedly suffering a severe stroke. Immediately, questions about the power vacuum that could open upon his passing have been asked, and rightfully so. The consequences of his death could be grave, not only

Philippines peace process: Duterte playing for high stakes

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has put his weight unequivocally behind efforts to bring a negotiated end to more than four decades of conflict in the south of the country, but uncertainty is bleeding momentum from the process and the clock is ticking. The Duterte administration inherited a

Australia’s future submarines: Why security matters

Revelations in The Australian over the past week concerning the capabilities of submarines being acquired by India from France have stirred interest in how Australia’s future submarines might similarly be compromised. The Indian navy will search high and low to find how damaging the leaked