Belarus, although frequently overlooked in the West, is a country critical to the development of the post-Soviet states and to Europe as a whole. Its location alone points to Belarus's importance as a major geopolitical player. On top of that, the ambitions of its president mean that Belarus will likely have a say in the future of Russia, Ukraine, and other neighboring states.
Several factors explain why a growing number of regimes are adopting outwardly more democratic political systems: the loss of appeal of socialist systems during the 1990s, the creation of newly independent states, and the corresponding need felt by an increasing number of governments to legitimize themselves in the eyes of their citizens and of the international community.
After the 9/11 attacks and the rash of anthrax mailings, renewed attention is being paid to the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) falling into the hands of additional states and nonstate actors. The vast majority of scenarios involving WMD proliferation invariably stems from the current insecurity characterizing the state of the Russian WMD complex, particularly its nuclear complex.
The threatened test of North Korea’s long-range Taepo-Dong II missile has apparently been averted¾ for now. Talks between U.S. and North Korean officials have resulted in a loose pledge from the North not to take any actions that would disrupt improving relations as long as talks continue.