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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brazil's economic dynamism has given it a stronger voice on global tradeand energy issues. Experts say Washington can advance its regional interests more effectively through a more sophisticated relationship with Brazil.
China is North Korea’s biggest trade partner and arguably has the most leverage on Kim Jong-un’s regime. But while Beijing appears willing to condemn its neighbor’s nuclear developments, analysts say its cautious policies remain focused on stability.