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24 years ago, on May 28 and 30, 1998, Pakistan conducted its first and last nuclear test at the Chagai test site. Pakistan's nuclear program started in 1972 by the order of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The start of the program was prompted by the heavy defeat that Pakistan suffered from India after the last one intervened in the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971. Its development was spurred on by the Indian nuclear test in 1974. In the same year, Abdul Qadeer Khan, later named “the father of the Islamic atomic bomb”, joined the program.


While most of the countries remain concentrated on the Ukrainian crisis, there is a possibility of another crisis at the different edge of Eurasia. The potential troublemaker is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and its nuclear missile program, which has somewhat revived in recent times.


Negotiations to return to Iranian nuclear deal in recent weeks have noticeably stalled. The main reason for this is the discrepancy between the positions of Tehran and Washington on the status of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is extremely important for Iran both from a military and economic point of view. On this background, external players interested in the restoration of the deal became more active. First of all, this concerns the monarchies of the Persian Gulf.


The United States is now preparing equally for both a scenario where there is a mutual return to compliance with Iran on a nuclear deal, as well as one in which there is not an agreement, the State Department said.


During his presidential campaign, the current US President Joe Biden promised to announce that the sole purpose of US nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack on the United States or its allies. However, recent news says that in the new Nuclear Posture Review, the Biden administration has adopted an approach close to that of the Obama administration, which left open the option for the use of nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear threats.


Diplomats and experts increasingly agree that the Iranian nuclear deal can be resumed in the nearest future, although back in early March it seemed that the prospects for restoring the JCPOA were very vague.


On Monday, January 31, it was confirmed the DPRK launched the Hwasong-12 ballistic missile the day before. The missile can reportedly carry a large-size heavy nuclear warhead and has a range of about 4,500 km. The launch of the rocket sparked the fears that Pyongyang may abandon the unilateral moratorium on missile tests (long-range and nuclear missiles). According to Kim Jong Un, he no longer considers himself bound by the moratorium due to the ongoing "hostile policies" of the US and its allies.


In Vienna, delegations continue to negotiate Iran’s return to compliance with the JCPOA. On Monday, January 24, the issue of releasing U.S. citizens came up on the agenda as a precondition for continuing negotiations. Earlier, the American delegation insisted the negotiations on prisoners release were not tied to those in Vienna and were conducted separately. Apparently, this connection is now urgent to advance the problem with imprisoned U.S. citizens; unless the issues are linked now, the U.S. might miss the opportunity to exert pressure on Tehran’s stance.


On Friday, January 14, the delegations of the eighth round of JCPOA negotiations returned to the capitals for official consultations, while expert working groups continue discussing the issue. The American side is concerned that Iran's nuclear progress "will be too difficult to reverse," meaning there are only a few weeks left for negotiations. According to representatives of the United States, Washington is prepared for either outcome.


On Wednesday, December 15, after several months of negotiations, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, reached an agreement that ensured the Agency would have access to the nuclear facility in Karaj (a centrifuge component manufacturing workshop) to replace its surveillance cameras. The parties pledged to "continue to work on remaining outstanding safeguards issues with the aim of resolving them." On December 19, the IAEA will provide a sample camera to Tehran for examination (under the supervision of the Agency experts) by Iranian security and judiciary experts. By the end of December, it is planned to re-install all surveillance cameras in Karaj.