Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Global Uranium Supply and Demand

Author: Toni Johnson

Interest in nuclear power is increasing, but securing adequate uranium supplies for nuclear fuel faces challenges ranging from a flagging mining sector to fears of nuclear weapons proliferation.

See more in United States; Nuclear Energy

Copenhagen's Many Agendas

Author: Toni Johnson

The UN conference on climate change that begins December 7 in Copenhagen is supposed to produce new targets for emissions reductions, but experts say major countries are at odds on the ultimate goal of a new framework. This backgrounder looks at some of their positions.

See more in Environmental Policy; Climate Change

Iran's Ballistic Missile Program

Author: Greg Bruno

Despite concerns over Iran's nuclear program, the Obama administration has assessed that Tehran is years from a developing a long-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. But past Iranian secrecy and testing bombast have led some experts to remain skeptical of Tehran's capabilities and ambitions.

See more in Weapons of Mass Destruction; Iran

Understanding Myanmar

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

Myanmar has undergone significant political change since the 2007 Saffron revolution leading to a boom in international investment, but it still faces considerable economic and human rights hurdles.

See more in Burma/Myanmar; Human Rights

National Missile Defense: A Status Report

Author: Greg Bruno

The United States has pursued missile defense technologies for six decades, with mixed results. Changes under the Obama administration, including adjustments to planned defenses in Europe, could portend a new direction.

See more in United States; Missile Defense

The African Union

Author: Stephanie Hanson

The African Union succeeded the old Organization for African Unity (OAU) in 2002. Since then, the new institution has struggled to reform governing bodies inherited from the OAU while shouldering challenging new peacekeeping missions.

See more in Africa (sub-Saharan); Regional Security

The Rise of Political Opposition in Japan

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

Opposition victory in Japan's 2009 parliamentary election served as a watershed moment in the country's electoral politics. Analysts say political change in Tokyo could result in a possible shift in its close relationship with the United States, especially in security matters.

See more in Elections; Japan

India-Afghanistan Relations

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

India's growing economic and political influence in Afghanistan has angered Pakistan, the traditional power there, and has experts worried that Afghanistan could become another battleground in the long-standing rivalry between South Asia's two giants.

See more in Trade; Afghanistan; India; Havens for Terrorism; Pakistan

The Media Landscape in Iran

Author: Greg Bruno

The crisis following Iran's presidential vote cast a new light on the country's hotly contested media space. A crackdown has limited independent reporting but other sources remain as channels for dissent.

See more in Iran

Brazil on the International Stage

Author: Stephanie Hanson

Brazil's economic dynamism has given it a stronger voice on global trade and energy issues. Experts say Washington can advance its regional interests more effectively through a more sophisticated relationship with Brazil.

See more in Brazil; Economic Development