Japan has mobilized its missile defense capabilities in response to satellite images showing the continuation of launch preparations by North Korea. North Korea claims it plans to launch a rocket carrying a communications satellite into space, but intelligence experts believe North Korea will instead test a ballistic missile. If the missile is shot down by Japan’s Self-Defense Force, North Korea may argue it is an act of war by Japan, Asia Times.
The International Olympic Committee announced that the Olympic torch will no longer be relayed around the world prior to the Olympic Games. Protests of China’s human rights abuses plagued the relay in 2008. The ban officially begins for the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia but both the 2010 winter games in Vancouver and the 2012 summer games in London will feature home country-only relays, New York Times.
According to a publicly released report, Russia plans to create a permanent military force in the Arctic to patrol disputed lands and protect Russian interests in natural resources, including oil and natural gas. Global climate change is predicted to make new areas of the Arctic accessible over the next few decades. Disputes over control of the region are expected to arise amongst Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark and the United States all of which have borders touching the Arctic, BBC News.
An editorial in the British medical journal, The Lancet, condemns Pope Benedict XVI’s comments concerning condom use. In an interview with a French journalist while visiting Africa, the Pope said the problem of AIDS in Africa “cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms: on the contrary, they increase it.” The Lancet editorial responded that the Pope’s statement is “outrageous and wildly inaccurate,” United Press International. The Lancet (subscription required).
Next week: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance of democratic states in North America and Europe, meets on April 3rd and 4th in Baden-Baden and Kehl, Germany, and in Strasbourg, France, NATO homepage.
London hosts world summit of the Group of 20 countries (G20) beginning on April 2. The summit will be held in London’s financial district and is expected to draw protests. The G20 is made up of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank, G20 homepage.