The new decade began inauspiciously with the tragic 2 January crash of a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter carrying the Taiwanese Chief of Staff General Shen Yi-ming, among others. A day later, an American drone strike killed the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. General Shen was responsible for Taiwan’s efforts to strengthen its air power in the face of China’s rise; Soleimani led the Quds Force, a clandestine unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which specialises in unconventional warfare and sponsors terrorism as part of its operations.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or, as it is more colloquially known, the ‘Iran Deal’, was ratified in July 2015. It was meant to put an end to decades of tensions between the West and Iran, which were caused by Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme. The 2015 deal between Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 (i.e. the United Nations Security Council members, plus Germany) was simple. The P5+1 would lift their sanctions on Iran, and in exchange, Tehran would give up military ambitions for its nuclear programme. Western governments hoped this would prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities, and avertan otherwise possible nuclear arms race in the Middle East. On 8 May 2018, however, US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States of America from the deal, calling it ‘decaying and rotten’. His decision cast significant uncertainties on the agreement. Now that the JCPOA is endangered, a fundamental question remains: will Iran get the bomb? To answer this, we must first consider whether Iran is technically capable of obtaining and using a nuclear weapon.
During the 2018 political summer break in Berlin, a debate that had already been considered buried in the dustbin of implausible ideas resurfaced. After Christian Hacke, a retired professor of political science, suggested that Germany ought to contemplate acquiring nuclear weapons in light of America’s waning reliability as a security guarantor, a phantom debate returned to Berlin’s strategic community. I will show why this debate about a German national nuclear arsenal is misguided. Acquisition of nuclear weaponry would not enhance Germany’s security – on the contrary, a German atomic bomb would compromise the country’s safety.
Recent months have seen a notable change in diplomatic relations between the American President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In 2017, ‘culturally-charged insults’ like ‘little rocket man’ and a ‘frightened dog’ were exchanged. Lately, however, the rhetoric between the two leaders has become significantly less hostile, as is evident from Trump’s description of Kim as ‘very honourable’ in April 2018.
In the months since part one of this article was published, a good deal has changed – at least on the surface – in the relationship between the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Tensions, in the main, have eased. The 12 June summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has begun. The talks are a historic moment, marking the first time a sitting US president has met with a DPRK leader. This article briefly summarises Trump and Kim’s aims for the negotiations, before analysing Britain’s options in the situation.