The second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam ended in failure due to a disagreement over terms of denuclearisation and the lifting of US sanctions. President Trump was unwilling to lift existing sanctions imposed on the Communist country until Kim commits to the complete dismantlement of the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Centre– the most important nuclear site in North Korea and heart of its weapons programme. Even in the event that the Yongbyon nuclear facilities close down, there is still no certainty that North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme would come to a true stop due to undisclosed sites across the country which may continue to develop nuclear weapons unbeknownst to the world.
The relationship between the two nuclear-powered nations in South Asia, India and Pakistan, reached a breaking point which pitted the countries closer to war than at any point over the last twenty years. Pakistan’s nuclear weapon policy is aimed at deterring India from military aggression given the former has rejected the No First Use of such weapons in the case of wars. That being said, we have seen a more statesmen-like approach from the country under Prime Minister Khan who has committed to reducing tension with India through diplomatic dialogue, having reached out to India’s Prime Minister for bilateral talks. With the general election approaching in India later this year, Prime Minister Modi’s chances of re-election may be dependent on his reaction on this issue.
Focus Industry: Space Programmes
In January 2019, China became the first country to successfully land a spacecraft, Chang’e-4, on the far side of the Moon after making significant investment into the country’s ‘Space Dream’. The Chinese government has been focused on encouraging public and private sector partnerships through implementing a series of policy changes starting from 2014 with the aim of Space First. The recent landing of Chang’e-4 not only signifies one further step in human space exploration but also represents an opportunity for China to showcase its astronautical capabilities on the global stage, with the objective of matching up to NASA in the near future.
India, the second largest economy in Asia after China, has expressed its intention to send an Indian national into space by 2020, the 75th anniversary of the country’s independence from British rule. For the past decade, India has been investing USD1.0 Billion a year into its space programme with the goal to become the fourth nation to send a person into space. Nevertheless, India’s space programme has come under criticism with the opposition claiming that funds should be used for eradicating widespread poverty instead.