North Korea's Rocket Launch

Hubert Cruz

North Korea launched a long-range rocket last Sunday (7 February), claiming it was used to place a satellite into orbit. The act was widely regarded by other nations as a guise for ballistic missile testing, which North Korea is prohibited from conducting under United Nations sanctions. Reports suggest that the range of the missile fired was up to 13,800km, meaning it could reach the continental US.


The rocket launch drew significant backlash from the international community. The US Senate swiftly approved new financial sanctions against North Korea, while South Korea suspended operations at the Kaesong factory complex, a compound jointly run with its neighbour. After an urgent meeting, the UN Security Council said the rocket launch was a threat to world security and clear violation of UN resolutions. The Security Council is already considering tougher sanctions over North Korea’s fourth nuclear test a few weeks ago.


The situation became complicated as China, a major ally of Pyongyang, only expressed a subtle statement of regret over the incident. Beijing worries that further sanctions would push North Korea towards political and economic collapse, and has expressed deep concerns over the US’ intent to deploy an advanced missile-defence shield in South Korea, warning that such a move would only escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.


What is the significance of North Korea’s latest rocket launch? Should the UN Security Council adopt tougher sanctions against North Korea? What is the best strategy to build sustainable peace in the Korean Peninsula? Whatever your view, send it in - via Twitter, Facebook or our website. If you would like to learn more about the issue, here are a few useful articles:


Eurasia Review – North Korea’s Rocket Launch: Tension In Northeast Asia Returns – Analysis


The Wall Street Journal – North Korea Rocket Launch Shows Few Gains in Capabilities, Seoul Says


Washington Post – North Korea’s rocket launch shows that Mr. Obama’s ‘strategic patience’ has failed


Iranian Sanctions Lifted

This week marks a new chapter in the world’s relation with Iran after more than a decade’s standoff and confrontation. The sanctions imposed by the United Nations against Iran have been officially lifted after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified Iran’s compliance of the international agreement that ensured it would not develop nuclear weapons. Iran would now be able to access its previously frozen assets, increase its oil exports, and develop formal business and trade relations with foreign countries.

These fresh opportunities have long been awaited by the Iranian people, who had suffered deeply from high levels of inflation and shortage of necessary items, such as medical supplies, under stringent restrictions placed on the Iranian currency. Much hope has also been placed on the Iranian government to revitalise the country’s crippled economy, and attract investments from abroad through restoring international faith in the country.

However, with sabre-rattling both from the US right and the Revolutionary Guard, as well as complicated commitments in the wider Middle East, Iran’s nuclear peace is a delicate one.

Can the sanctions hold, and do they herald a new period in Iran’s relations with the wider world? And will Iran’s longstanding enmity with Saudi Arabia lead to greater conflict in the region? Whatever your view, send it in - via Twitter, Facebook or our website. The contributors with the best insights will be invited to explore their views further for our journal Sir!