Three days after Iran's June 12 presidential election, in which the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reelected with a reported two-thirds' majority, protests and allegations of vote-count irregularities and suppression of free speech dominated that nation's political landscape. The Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, announced Ahmadinejad's leading opponent, independent reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi had received 33 percent of the votes cast.
The United Nations Security Council on June 12 unanimously approved stringent new sanctions against North Korea, in response to Pyongyang's May 25 nuclear test. Even North Korea's communist allies Russia and China joined in approving the sanctions resolution, which was passed by a 15-0 vote.
Voice of America's VOA News reported on June 11 that seven world powers had agreed the day before on a draft UN Security Council resolution to expand sanctions against North Korea in response to the communist nation's recent underground nuclear test and several ballistic missile tests. The draft text was the result of weeks of negotiations among the five permanent Security Council members — the U.K., China, France, Russia, and the United States — as well as non-permanent council members Japan and South Korea.
North Korea has sentenced two American reporters to 12 years of hard labor for allegedly crossing its border with China. The sentencing has deepened the communist country's dispute with the U.S. over nuclear weapons and missile testing.
“North Korea's Kim moves to anoint youngest son as heir,” Reuters announced in the title to a June 2 release. The North’s current communist dictator, Kim Jong-il, is apparently considering his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, to be his successor. USA Today reported also on June 2 that the South Korean paper Dong-a Ilbo was saying that North Koreans are singing a song “hailing the dictator's third son as ‘Commander Kim.’ ”
While the Chinese government is busying itself with further cracking down on censorship of the Internet, television, and the printed word, human rights groups report that political dissidents — anyone who criticizes the present regime or reports the truth of what goes on in China (journalists, lawyers, etc.) — are being detained and questioned until after the Tiananmen Square anniversary on Thursday.
According to a May 29 AP release, North Korea has test-fired another short-range missile. “South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the latest test launch was a surface-to-air missile designed to defend against aircraft or other missile attacks. It said the missile was believed to be a modified version of the Russian SA-5.” Also reported was the fact that anonymous U.S. officials in Washington “said there are indications of increased activity at a site used to fire long-range missiles,” possibly indicating there will be a test firing from that location in the near future.
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.