North Korea test-fired four short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan on July 2, increasing tensions between Pyongyang and the West that began when North Korea launched its Taepodong-2 long-range missile on April 5, a move President Barack Obama called "provocative" and a "clear violation" of Security Council Resolution 1718.
Nearly 4,000 U.S. Marines and 650 Afghan troops launched a major offensive into southwestern Afghanistan's Helmand River valley on July 2, an area that is a Taliban stronghold and produces more opium than anyplace else in the world.
In a sermon delivered on June 26 at Tehran University, senior Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami called on his government to harshly punish leaders of the protests that have rocked Iran since its June 12 presidential election. Khatami also accused foreign journalists of instigating the demonstrations.
In a statement published by the White House on June 24, President Obama, using emergency powers, extended a set of economic sanctions on North Korea for another year. The order becomes effective on June 26, the day the previous sanctions issued by former president George W. Bush were due to expire. They will remain in effect for one year.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, announced on June 24 to state-run Press TV that he would not yield to pressure generated by his political opponents over the disputed June 12 presidential election that resulted in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bloomberg News reported his statement: "The Islamic establishment and people will never give in to forceful demands in regard to the election. The violation of the election will lead to dictatorship."