The 10th gathering of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) of OPEC and non-OPEC members on Sunday ended, as Iran insisted, without any direct decision on additional supply boost.
The committee finally stood by their June decision for maintaining the 100 percent compliance levels declaring that the market is balanced enough and no more production is needed at the moment.
Although the JMMC’s decision implies that the countries with spare capacity will be able to offset Iran’s future shortfalls but it could also be interpreted as a negative response to the U.S. pressures for “Zero Iranian oil”.
Now the question is what this decision means for the evolving parties and how it projects on the OPEC, non-OPEC nations and their oil policies in the future.
OPEC and expectations
In the weeks prior to the meeting, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh had repeatedly blamed Saudi Arabia and Russia for their soft stances against Trump requests saying that “they are turning OPEC into a political organization”.
The U.S. president Donald Trump, on the other hand, added to the pressures on his OPEC allies to take actions for reducing the oil prices [and in fact for replacing Iranian oil more hastily].
“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Anticipating obedience from the allies’ side, Iran further slammed OPEC for being a “tool” for U.S. and Iranian oil minister refused to attend the JMMC’s meeting on Sunday showing his dissatisfaction with OPEC and Russia’s overtolerance in dealing with the U.S. interferences in the oil market. He even went further, declaring that “would strictly block any decision against Iran’s interests”, though he didn’t explain how.
The outcomes of the Sunday meeting, however, were quite surprising for many, including Iranian officials and experts who clearly believed this meeting was prearranged for dividing Iran’s market share.
Behrouz Namdari, a senior energy analyst told ILNA before the meeting that Saudi Arabia and Russia had already made their plans for replacing Iran’s oil and they will just discuss the details of each member’s share in the Sunday meeting, whether Zanganeh attends it or not.
A strong OPEC or an OPEC+
In recent months, the cartel was greatly criticized by many officials and experts for its weak performance, and many even questioned the necessity of its existence in the future.
Although, some of these criticism was the result of the organization’s actual weak performances but they were mostly derived from efforts for discrediting the cartel in favor of others’ political and economic interests.
As Behrouz Namdari correctly put it “If there is no coherent organization, there won’t be any obligations for restricting radical actions from oil producing countries like Russia or even U.S., so they are trying to replace OPEC with another organization called OPEC Plus, which has more market share and less power.”
So, this time the organization [or safe to say Saudi Arabia] needed to show the “other side” that OPEC still has its power and despite some obedience, it is not going to fully play by the rules dictated.
Russia, however, playing for both sides, didn’t have anything to lose whatever the results of the meeting were. In case of a decision for a boost, they would get their share and otherwise they would still have their alliance with both Iran and Saudis! Let alone their tendency to establish a new organization in which Russia would have the upper hand still stays a strong contributing factor to all their recent actions.
On the other hand, members with spare capacity also left the Sunday meeting satisfied, no production boost still means a tighter market and consequently higher prices for them
Iran supporting the “strong” OPEC
All the turmoil aside, Iran immediately voiced it’s satisfaction with the outcomes of the Algeria meeting.
Zanganeh praised the Sunday meeting’s outcome as a “negative” response to U.S. demands saying that the “U.S. dream” to cut Iranian oil exports to zero would not come true.
“The U.S. seeks to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero even for a month, but that dream would not come to reality,” ISNA quoted Zanganeh as saying on Monday.
So apparently after OPEC’s grand gesture toward the U.S. [despite its reasons], Iran is willing to stick by a strong OPEC which defies U.S., even at the expense of its market shares.
“If there is a fall not only from Iran, but anybody else, it is the responsibility of OPEC and non-OPEC to balance the market,” Reuters quoted Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, who represents Iran on OPEC’s board of governors as saying on Sunday.
First published in our partner Tehran Times
Building Trust in the Mission of World Energy Policy
Gaining trust in improving a country’s energy quality means a government could seek, maintain, and develop alternative energy for energy scarcity. Every country, either one on the Asian continent or the other on the European continent, essentially wants to develop renewable energy as an interchange solution to fossil energy. Many countries still rely on fossil energy, that is, natural gas and oil, which predictably will become obsolete in years to come.
Meanwhile, when we look at the global solution, the United Nations has stipulated the sustainable development goals (SDG) that a country should optimize its renewable energy. The SDG’s expected target mentioned that developed and developing countries should utilize renewable energy by 2030. As a developed country, Ireland also plans the same activities in which the use of fossil energy must be reduced in 10 years, and that policy began in 2021. Through the national energy and climate plan (NCEP), all the country’s EU members, including Ireland, report the development of their energy policy to the European Commission, particularly their progress on renewable energy.
Based on NCEP, in 2030, Ireland targets primary energy consumption efficiency to reach 15.9%. At the same time, the efficiency for using final energy consumption is targeted to get 13%. In the same year, the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions reached 30%. The emission reduction target has increased compared to 2017, which came to 13%, and in 2020 which reached 20%.
The energy policies of EU member countries comply with global agreements to support the use of efficient and renewable energy, including energy that is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, future energy policies will also create interconnections and support synergy among nations for performance on research and development in the energy sector.
Critically, developing renewable energy is a complicated measure for all nations to reposition their use of fossil energy, including Ireland, considering that many aspects and parties have depended on this fossil energy for their energy needs. Meanwhile, the energy transition policy was introduced by G20 a couple of years ago. Since 2009,
The G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, through the group’s top leadership, has built a commitment to reduce fuel subsidies as people know that fuel subsidies have burdened some nations’ state budgets. Therefore reducing them becomes a reasonable measure to create efficient fiscal utilization for other development needs.
During geopolitical tensions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the weakening foreign exchange rate, inflation, and rising oil commodity prices have again caused an increase in fuel subsidies in the state budgets of several countries. The subsidy reduction plan could become better planning because subsidies are still part of the energy subsidy expenditure allocation in the state budget. It takes a strong commitment from all parties if renewable energy is to be realized immediately. Primarily its mission is to support green development and tackle climate change.
The progress of renewable energy development has started to give better results. France, the United States, Japan, and South Korea are even trying to develop nuclear energy as an alternative to renewable energy. The new model for expanding nuclear power is an alternative to other energy sources expected to create cost efficiency, resources, and reduction of pollution that distorts environmental ecosystems and climate.
The world’s attention is heading towards governance changes in finding and developing available energy. Governments and business sectors in each country are also trying to find sources of financing that can be used to build their energy resource management plans. But the Government and the business sector experience a dilemma.
Based on a survey analysis conducted by the Edelman Trust Barometer, just released in 2023, the level of public trust in the Irish Government is only 45%. Meanwhile, public confidence in the business sector reached 52%. Eldelman classifies the level of public trust in the Irish Government as a form of distrust. At the same time, public confidence in the business sector is neutral.
Likewise, with Germany, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The level of public trust in the Government in this country is at the level of distrust. Public distrust of the Government is a challenge for European governments in inviting public involvement to support the development of alternative energy.
The public protest against the change in the retirement age rules has become one of the public’s expressions of disappointment with the French Government under the leadership of Emmanuel Macron. However, that situation differs from the distrust shown by the other reason. The accumulation of social problems may become one of the reasons why the public is starting to see deficiencies in implementing policies issued by the French Government. Social mobility policies related to the spread of Covid-19 could have been one of the triggers.
Not to mention the problem of economic recession and world pressure due to the conflict in the Black Sea. The inflation in food and energy prices worst the financial situation when many people are still searching for their living food caused by are being forced to lose their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Accordingly, European governments must struggle again to build public trust so that plans for developing renewable energy and other alternative energy can run according to the planned targets.
While Europe was about to restart building the trust of its people, China, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates succeeded in increasing their people’s confidence in their respective governments. Building public trust needs enormous effort and pressure. The people always believe in their Government if there is a manageable gap to narrow the space between expectations and realization.
Even so, some Europe countries are still developed land that can continuously adapt and change. The maturity and capacity of human resources in several European countries have even been very advanced. Their ability to manage energy and create innovation is outstanding. Every country needs time and process to advance its energy development industry, including developing countries in Asia such as China and ASEAN. They also seek to drive their energy development industry so that energy needs for power generation, transportation, heat, and other requirements can be fulfilled immediately.
All countries at least strive to achieve the SDGs target in 2030 to reach renewable energy use by 2050, which is targeted to achieve net zero emissions. As long as the G20 and other international forums mutually support global cooperation in combating climate change’s effects, renewable energy development will undoubtedly be achieved according to the expected targets.
Each generation determines the changes in its destiny. They will evaluate and continue this achievement from generation Y to Z. With technological developments no longer limited by space and time, interaction and coordination between periods and countries are straightforward. That is why the mission of diplomacy and energy cooperation will continuously adapt the pattern and character of every age that is different from time to time.
The Nuclear State without Nuclear: Nuclear Energy Tragedy pertaining Indian Regional Development
India’s national energy policy is heavily dependent on fossil fuel consumption to attain its energy demands; around 70 percent of the energy requirements are overwhelmingly met by coal, where the share of nuclear power is below 3 percent. Coal is essential for baseload in electrification, and the production of steel and significant industries thrive on coal consumption alone. In the year 2020-21, India produced 716 million tons of coal, nearly two times higher compared to 2011-12, when India produced 431 million tons to supply the ever-growing demand for power. Despite such enormous production, India is one of the largest coal importers. Not alone, the coal simultaneously India dependence on oil imports, according to reports, stood at 76 percent, which is predicted to surge up to severe levels by 2040.
Despite the heavy reliance on fossil fuels and the fact that India maintained its carbon emissions level below (” emissions per capita, total or kWh produced”) the Paris agreement 2015 levels, meticulous analysis reveals that the carbon emission level of India has risen by 200 percent since 1990. Climate change affects the agrarian sector, which makes up about 42 percent of India’s workforce, pushing it under the blade of job cuts if the water scarcity gets severe; it also threatens the inhabitants of hilly areas whose employment is dependent on the mesmeric mountains tourism. The scope of development of any region in this modern world significantly relies on the consumption of power to run factories, lighten up houses, and fast irrigation systems in farms for large quantities of production.
India’s current electricity distribution has 371.054 GW GRIDs, divided into five regions Northern, Eastern, Western, North Eastern, and Southern; seventeen percent of this electric GRID is exercised by the agriculture sector, where the commercial agencies use 48 percent. With the emerging depletion of fossil fuels, nuclear power adoption, along with other clean energy power sources, is considered one of the priorities of the Indian government.
However, reports depicted that those policies’ effects are not present on the ground, where nuclear energy contributes merely three percent to the total energy production. The nuclear proportion in China’s energy production is four times greater than India’s; India must adapt to the nuclearization of India’s rural area, paving the way for future growth. The recent enclosure of twenty-five-year-old coal plants in India reflects a minor contribution concerning carbon emissions reduction. At the same time, the consequence brought India into the coal crisis in the northern region.
Rural backwardness constitutes the majority due to the low electricity consumption, whose reasons are ample, sometimes due to geographical limitations and atmospheric restrictions, especially in hilly areas. The electric GRID distribution and maintenance could be better, where the electricity surplus is concentrated in a few sectors based in metro cities. During the Covid Preventive lockdown, seventy percent of power consumption drop in rural India has been noticed; this development questions India’s energy policies which heavily relied upon fossil fuels for energy production. Four states, named Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Madhya Pradesh, comprise 550 million tons of coal, equivalent to 75-80 percent of coal consumption. The argument in favor of coal is due to its cost-effectiveness and availability.
Another reason for low rural development is the GRID-electrification system, being the primary source of power supply in the rural household, reported monthly energy consumption of 39 kWh, half of India’s national energy consumption average, which is a significant obstacle to the adoption of modern technology for overall growth in rural areas. The reason is not alone political but mismanagement of electricity distribution. As the question of this paper addressed, Why Nuclear? Why not other sources of non-Fossil fuels energy?
For example, the number of atoms of Uranium 235 per kilogram is 2.564×1024 releasing the energy per gram is around 2.29×104 kWh. [Dr S.N Ghosal, Nuclear Physics]. Thermal plants produce the same energy after running for 229 hours at the capacity of 1 MW. When one kilogram of coal burns, it generates 8.926 kWh after exhausting the total mass of 2.56×103 kg. The above estimates demonstrate the advantage of using uranium for power generation.
However, the nuclear economic constraint unrevealed the enormous cost comes alongside Nuclear Power Plant projects, especially the cost of 1000 megawatts generation is around 5500 dollars, whereas natural gas provides the same quantity of energy for under 1000 dollars; the construction durations refrain policymakers to entertain the nuclear reactor as a feasible power generation source where it takes around seven years to complete and 15-16 years to breakeven.
Nuclear dependency globally was now 10 percent, peaked at 17.7 in 1996, and this is the second obstacle for nuclear energy globally. However, India’s view, contrary to the other nations, being the largest reserve of Thorium, gives an upper hand to maximize energy production by establishing thorium reactors which are undergoing the three-stage plan. Besides thorium reactors, SMRs are in consideration, especially the recent development in the USA where private firm Nu Scale advanced to develop the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor with the capacity of generating 50 Megawatts, which is not par to the level of traditional reactors but corresponds to the resilience it could provide electrifying those lands where electric GRIDs yet not connected. The rural area primarily benefits from such development as such modules are self-sustainable, where the reliance will be on water recycling, limiting water misuse.
The case of Jadugoda was an infamous case where Uranium plant radiation contributed to severe health deterioration, highlighted by Kyoto university research. Radiation is one of the critical issues alongside nuclear waste, which hinders nuclear energy’s ability to obtain massive consent, especially in rural areas.
Other Renewable sources talking about Hydropower, India has 18 pressurized heavy water reactors in operation, with another four projects launched totaling 2.8 GW capacity. India 2019 took over Japan, becoming the fifth-largest hydropower producer generating 162.10 TWh from 50 TWH installed capacity. Close to 100 hydropower currents are used, contributing around twelve percent to the total power generation. The procedure of hydropower generation emphasizes water flow tremendously; without the fast running, the water plant will be defunct and fail to produce power. This forces the policymakers to ignore the natural effects on the regions of the water flow is adequate.
Climate change models are clear about the cascading impacts of global warming trends on the glaciers of the Himalayas, the primary source of water in the region that sustains the drainage network within the mountain chain. The current hydro onslaught in the Himalayas deliberately ignores contentious externalities such as social displacement, ecological impacts, and environmental and technological risks. In the rural areas, if the regions do not have such a large flow of water, it will discourage the policy marker from implementing it even if one state possesses water, it will obstruct the construction of such projects because of shortage of water and possibly drainage hindering to fulfill the critical water needs, especially in the Punjab region.
Wind energy mechanical power through wind turbines as of 28 February 2021, India installed wind power capacity was 38.789 GW, the world’s fourth largest installed wind power capacity. Like hydropower, nature requires to perform its task where the wind flow determines the total power production. If a region is not naturally gifted, then feasibility is under question.
The last alternative Fossil fuel, which is heavily praised by the young generation, is solar energy. The country currently has 44.3 GW installed capacity as of 31 August 2021, where solar energy has the potential to generate electricity for rural areas and simultaneously reduce Fossil fuels consumption. The New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) expected “the total investment for upgrading to 100 GW solar power capacity cost around $94 billion. The cost-efficiency factor is a plus point of solar energy. However, the pace still needs to catch up in the quest to replace conventional sources of energy.
The fossil fuels burned by the factories in the urban areas are the primary power contributor supplying power to the rural areas. This system heavily depends on the GRIDs vulnerable to atmospheric shifts such as storms.
Moreover, even a minor breakdown might defuse the electricity power supply GRIDs for days, if not weeks. To tackle these issues, Portable Nuclear plants could be set up to give the villagers access to electricity without interruption. The reduction of size assists the government official in planning the safety strategy more swiftly simultaneously; cost efficiency is another factor where a policymaker can cut factory expenses.
Figure 1 GRID-level system costs for dispatch able and renewable technologies Materials requirement for various electricity generation technologies (source: US Department of Energy)
Figure 1 deciphers the cost relationship enabling us to comprehend the long-term financial cost when the connection cost among other eco-friendly energy sources is too high compared to fossil fuels. Nuclear energy outperforms all existing energy sources considered eco-friendly in connection cost and balancing cost. This development also illustrates that the factories lean more towards fossil fuels because of the low cost. However, economically speaking, the employment of such industries could be more sustainable in the long term.
The Photovoltaic, Hydro, and onshore alternatives, well-established sources of energy production, are not that reliable, and variation in power generation discourages them from being considered a superior replacement.
Solar is affordable but unreliable because intermittency issues require storing backup, and the production depends mainly upon the sun, like the wind, for turbine energy. In contrast, coal requires man labor to extract from the mines and ignite it to produce energy if we consider the process in abstraction. The case of nuclear is different nuclear energy do rely on 239 Uranium and 242 Plutonium, in some cases 232 Thorium to attain the level where power could be generated, and uranium, to be precise, is scared in quantity to solve the enormous issue Enrico Fermi already in the 1940s, stated that nuclear reactors operating with ‘fast’ neutron are capable to fission not only the rare isotope U-235 which indicates towards A fast-neutron reactor.
The Covid and Rural development
During the lockdown, seventy percent of the power consumption drop in rural India has been noticed; this development questions India’s energy policies which heavily relied upon fossil fuels for energy production. The GRID-electrification, the primary source of power supply in the rural household, reported monthly energy consumption of 39 kWh half of India’s national energy consumption average, which is a significant obstacle to the adoption of modern technology for overall growth in rural areas. A significant downfall has been noticed in the employment sector, tabled whether it could replace fossil fuel, which constitutes a significant number in employing rural workers.
Deloitte’s study of the European nuclear industry suggested that nuclear provides more jobs per TWh of electricity generated than any other clean energy source. According to the report, the nuclear industry sustains more than 1.1 million jobs in the European Union. Aggressive promotion of nuclear energy will impact all other fields, such as education, the health sector, and employment. Running a conventional reactor requires a team who can resolve the complex task; however, if the reactor is small and portable, the operation fixations reduce significantly.
Providing adequate function training will become the source of employment while reducing fissile fuel dependency. At the same time, nuclear reactors require sophisticated hands to run the function, which could reduce the unemployment created by fossil fuel industries in response to a carbon tax or depletion of fuels, more precisely, a severe rise in fuel prices.
Although the enormous potential for nuclear energy possesses few areas that are still vulnerable whose exploitation might invite catastrophic such as the illegal transfer of nuclear energy by non-state actors, one of the critical issues India is facing is news of uranium confiscations currently haunts the world that India security vulnerability enabled the private persons to have a hand over fissile materials, the other issue that should be considered is the maintenance of nuclear plants Chornobyl is an excellent example of what extend of potential a nuclear disaster possesses still in several regions in Ukraine radiation exist. [Barry W. Brook, “Why nuclear energy is sustainable and has to be part of the energy mix”].
India needs to accelerate the nuclear problem while strictly abiding by the security norms of the nuclear policy widely accepted as a nuclear safety benchmark. Meltdown, Hazardous nuclear waste and maintenance predominated the circle of nuclear crisis (except France and Sweden, as a significant proportion of electricity generation depends on nuclear plants); currently, SMR is echoing to minimize such externalities; however, the effectiveness of such small module reactors must be scrutinized under tests before it could be considered as a genuine alternative to traditional reactors.
Nuclear energy is far superior to other fossil fuel energy alternatives. However, the low adaption is one of the critical issues that require tackling by incentivizing the research to develop several small scales portable nuclear reactor modules that stand on the international security parameters and simultaneously ensure a low probability of accidents. The employment prospect from nuclear reactors is enormous, and as the depletion of fossil fuel takes place could become the most employment service-providing sector.
Two types of reactors are mainly highlighted first is a conventional nuclear reactor, and the second is portable nuclear reactors; government, in the long term, must concentrate on building small-scale reactors so cost efficiency will favor the rural people. Nuclear energy is a multi-sectoral project where the industries and the household will have greater access to electricity, but the complexity of reactor management advances specialization in education. Such problems are vital if India has any dream of total nuclearization.
Azerbaijan seeks to become the green energy supplier of the EU
Recently, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Hungary and Romania signed an agreement to build a strategic partnership regarding green energy. According to the document of the text, these four countries will be working together to develop a 1,195 kilometer submarine power cable underneath the Black Sea, thus effectively creating an energy transmission corridor from Azerbaijan via Georgia to Romania and Hungary. For Europe, this is a golden opportunity that must be seized upon.
According to the International Monetary Fund, “Europe’s energy systems face an unprecedented crisis. Supplies of Russian gas—critical for heating, industrial processes and power—have been cut by more than 80 percent this year. Wholesale prices of electricity and gas have surged as much as 15-fold since early 2021, with severe effects for households and businesses. The problem could well worsen.”
For this reason, Europe should switch as soon as possible to green energy supplies, so that they will rely less upon Russian gas and oil in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. This will enable Europe to be energy independent and to fulfill its energy needs by relying upon better strategic partners, such as Azerbaijan, who are not hostile to Europe’s national security and the West more generally.
By having this submarine power cable underneath the Black Sea, Azerbaijan can supply not only Hungary and Romania with green energy, but the rest of Europe as well if the project is expanded. Israel, as a world leader in renewable energy, can also play a role in helping Azerbaijan become the green energy supplier of the EU, as the whole project requires Azerbaijan to obtain increased energy transmission infrastructure. Israel can help Azerbaijan obtain this energy transmission infrastructure, so that Azerbaijan can become Europe’s green energy supplier.
According to the Arava Institute of the Environment, “Israel, with its abundant renewable energy potential, in particular wind and solar, has excellent preconditions to embark on the pathway towards a 100% renewable energy system. Accordingly, Israel has already made considerable progress with regard to the development of renewable energy capacities.” The Israeli government has been pushing hard for a clean Israeli energy sector by 2030. Thus, Israel has the technical know-how needed to help Azerbaijan obtain the infrastructure that it needs to become the green energy supplier of Europe following the crisis in the Ukraine.
Given the environmental conditions present in Azerbaijan, which has an abundance of access to both solar and wind power, with Israeli technical assistance, Azerbaijan can help green energy be transported through pipelines and tankers throughout all of Europe, thus helping to end the energy crisis in the continent. In recent years, Europe has sought to shift away from oil and gas towards more sustainable energy.
With this recent agreement alongside other European policies, these efforts are starting to bear fruits. In 2021, more than 22% of the gross final energy consumed in Europe came from renewable energy. However, different parts of Europe have varying levels of success. For example, Sweden meets 60% of its energy needs via renewable energy, but Hungary only manages to utilize renewable energy between 10% and 15% of the time. Nevertheless, it is hoped that with this new submarine power cable underneath the Black Sea, these statistics will start to improve across the European Union and this will enable Europe to obtain true energy independence, free of Russian hegemony.
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