One day after Russia said it was going to step up its military surveillance around North Korea in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test explosion and short-range missile tests, U.S. and South Korean forces also increased their level of watchfulness. CNN reported on May 28 that this puts U.S. and South Korean forces at their second-highest “Watchcon” alert level, a level that was last used when North Korea exploded a nuclear test device in 2006.
North Korea’s belligerence has now extended to restarting its main nuclear reactor, declaring itself no longer bound by the 1953 Korean War armistice, and threatening to attack South Korea if it participates in U.S. efforts to inspect North Korean ships that may be carrying missiles.
“One day after its nuclear test drew angry and widespread condemnation, North Korea continued to defy the international community on Tuesday by test-firing two more short-range missiles, a South Korean government official said,” the New York Times reported on May 26. The BBC pointed out on the same day that South Korea’s Yonhap news agency “said the test involved one ground-to-ship missile and one ground-to-air missile.”
IRNA, Iran's state-controlled news agency, quoted a statement made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on May 20 that his country has test-fired the new Sejil-2 missile, which has a range sufficient to reach Israel, southeastern Europe, and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The launch came at a time of increased tensions between Iran and eastern nations suspicious of the Islamic state's nuclear-enrichment program and its potential to produce nuclear weapons.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has denied a speculative report appearing in the New York Times for May 19 that Zalmay Khalilzad, who was former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in the administration of President George W. Bush, might assume an important unelected position inside the Afghan government. The Times report, which cited senior American and Afghan officials, said that Ambassador Khalilzad has been talking with President Karzai for several weeks about taking on a position that the two described as "the chief executive officer of Afghanistan."