BRUSSELS — The May 2 announcement by SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, that Russia’s defense budget in 2017 fell by 20 percent made many headlines across the West, with predictions of major fallout for Moscow’s military modernization goals, operations, and tactics and its international influence. However, the reality is far from that scenario as most defense economists and NATO officials who follow the subject know.

“Today happens to be Victory Day in Russia,” a NATO planner who spoke on the condition of anonymity told me on May 9, referring to Moscow’s annual military display in commemoration of Nazi Germany’s defeat. “I don’t think you’re going to see the parade downsized by a fifth.”

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Three years ago, Iranians celebrated in the streets of Tehran after a deal was struck between their government and the P5+1 countries to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Three years later, there were once again celebrations in Iran after US President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This time hardliners in parliament set fire to a photo of an American flag and chanted, “We burned America! We burned the JCPOA!”

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US President Donald J. Trump announced in a Twitter post on May 9 that North Korea has released three American prisoners.

Trump said the three men, all US citizens of Korean descent, were freed during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang on May 9.

Trump tweeted on May 9 that Pompeo was “in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen” and that the former prisoners seemed “to be in good health.”

The release is an apparent goodwill gesture by North Korea ahead of a summit between its leader, Kim Jong-un, and Trump. In his tweet, Trump said a date and a place for that meeting has been decided. The meeting would make history just by happening—it will be the first time that a North Korean leader has met a sitting US president.

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President Trump’s decision today to leave the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was the most significant foreign policy decision yet for this administration.

It is no accident that Trump announced it even as he dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. These two engagements will do much to define the Trump administration’s policy toward nuclear proliferators and determine whether Trump’s disruptive approach can produce real results.        

Whether Trump’s decision today proves to be the right tonic to finally counter Iran’s multiple threats depends on whether the administration can craft a strategy that is as coherent as today’s action was bold. At the moment, that is not the case.

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US President Donald J. Trump’s administration, expressing displeasure with the government in South Sudan, has started a comprehensive review of its aid programs to that country.

In a sternly worded statement, the White House said that the leaders of South Sudan had “squandered this partnership [with the United States], pilfered the wealth of South Sudan, killed their own people, and repeatedly demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to live up to their commitments to end the country’s civil war. The result is one of Africa’s worst humanitarian disasters.”

Announcing its aid review, the White House said: “While we are committed to saving lives, we must also ensure our assistance does not contribute to or prolong the conflict, or facilitate predatory or corrupt behavior.”

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US President Donald J. Trump on May 8 withdrew the United States from the multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran.

The deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)— was struck in 2015 by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, and Iran.

Here’s a look at reactions from around the world to Trump’s decision. [Editor's note: We are adding reactions when available. Please check back for updates.]

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US President Donald J. Trump on May 8 pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal saying the agreement did not satisfactorily address the Islamic Republic’s ability to build a nuclear bomb or limit its “malign activity.” He also signed a memorandum to reimpose sanctions on Iran.

Trump’s decision will likely strain Washington’s ties with its European allies who had urged him to remain in the deal.

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In 1989, back in the day when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia mediated regional conflicts, the fifteen-year Lebanese civil war ended with the Taif Accord, a reference to the Saudi town where the accord was signed. That agreement changed the Christian/Muslim representation in parliament from a 6:5 ratio in favor of Christians to an equal split.  The powers of the presidency, always allotted to the Maronite Christians according to the 1943 Lebanese National Pact (NP), were watered down—the president, for example, was no longer the commander in-chief.  The leadership of the armed forces went instead to a supreme military council.

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Very little is likely to actually happen immediately on May 8 if US President Donald J. Trump does not renew sanctions waivers for Iran.

Indeed, there is only one waiver scheduled for renewal by a May 12 deadline. That provision is Section 1245 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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US President Donald J. Trump is expected to announce his decision on May 8 on whether to continue to waive sanctions on Iran or pull the United States out of a multilateral nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic.

Here’s a quick look at the history of sanctions on Iran.

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