Weekly Snapshot
26 August – 1 September

1. Nuclear Talks are Slowing Between the United States and North Korea
Recently, President Trump has canceled a meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-Un that was set for next week. This comes as negotiations have continued to be hindered by lack of Chinese support. It is likely that the increased economic tensions between the United States and China have weighed heavily on the lack of support from China.

Since the first meetings between the United States and North Korea, progress has continued to slow. North Korea continues to update and modernize their nuclear facilities despite continuing talks of shutting down those facilitates. This means that the threat from North Korea is still very much real and is continuing to grow.

2. European Union to Bail Out Iran
The European Commission has announced a support package for the country of Iran. This package includes 18 million euros for economic and social change projects (8 million euros going to the private sector). This is the first implementation of a wider package totaling 50 million euros in support of projects in Iran.

This support package is designed to help Iran as their economic situation continues to worsen after the US sanctions were replaced with the ending of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This new plan undermines the sanctions placed by the United States, giving Iran more resources to continue to fund terrorism abroad and develop their nuclear arsenal that would threaten not only the United States but the world.

3. Largest Russian Military Exercise Since Soviet Union
Statements made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu have several countries in Asia and around the world concerned. Russia is set to partake in a massive military exercise called Vostok-2018 (East-2018). Yearly the Russian military engages in a military exercise in one of their regions, North, East, South and West, but this year is said to be the biggest since the the Zapad exercises of 1981 (West-81).

Russian military exercises always draw a level of concern from countries around the world after their 2014 annexation of Crimea that followed to the Zapad-2014 exercises. Usually estimates about Russian troop levels and involvement are over exaggerated. However these new claims are coming right from Russia itself.

Russia is to be cooperating with the Chinese and Mongolian armies incorporating over 300,000 troops, 1000 military aircraft, two Russian naval fleets and all of Russia’s airborne units. This has brought great concern from Japan who has talked of ongoing Russian military build-ups in the Far East.

These exercises are set to take place from 11-15 September and are going to cost the Russians a lot of money in a time of economic difficulties. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that these war games are essential for Russia. This is a good indication that continuing to grow militarily is one of the main priorities of the Russian government.

4. El Salvador Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Taiwan
Last week, the government of El Salvador officially cut ties with the government of Taiwan, while establishing ties with China. This is starting to be a recurring theme for Taiwan as in 2017 Panama broke ties and in May of this year, the Dominican Republic did as well.

This erosion of diplomatic ties to Taiwan is in large part due to the Chinese One Belt – One Road initiative. An initiative that was supposed to connect Asia and Europe both economical and through new infrastructure seems to have spilled over into global infrastructure projects. Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister, is said to have received a proposal from El Salvador for a port project. After Taiwanese engineers decided the project was economically feasible, it appears El Salvador has gone to China for the money.

With El Salvador breaking ties, Taiwan now only has 17 nations that diplomatically recognize them. With an increase in Chinese aggression towards Taiwan, it is likely China will lure more allies away from Taiwan.