Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced that it seized a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19, and a second British-owned tanker was boarded before being released, in the latest escalation over control of one of the world’s most vital energy trade waterways.

The first tanker, the Stena Impero, was seized by Iranian boats after it ignored warnings to stop, according to Iranian officials. The second tanker, MV Mesdar, operates under a Liberian flag but is owned by UK company Norbulk Shipping.

The potential for nuclear power plants to provide substantial emissions-free energy on a reliable and cost-effective basis will be key to addressing a range of challenges facing the United States, from climate change to economic competition, US Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said on May 21.

Speaking at the launch of an Atlantic Council report, “US Nuclear Energy Leadership: Innovation and the Strategic Global Challenge,” at the US Senate Visitor Center in Washington, Crapo said that while “nuclear energy provides over half of our nation’s emissions-free energy… the United States is scheduled to lose a significant amount of its nuclear generation in the next decade.” Put simply, “Nuclear energy has been in need of a reboot for many years,” he said.

The Trump administration shocked global oil markets on April 22 with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s surprise announcement that the United States would not renew any waivers for importing Iranian oil when they expire on May 2. While Pompeo noted that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would increase production to match the approximate 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude that will come off the market, this will cut into global spare capacity and has already pushed Brent crude up over 3 percent over $74 as of publication.

The Trump administration’s decision not to grant any more sanctions waivers to countries that import oil from Iran is part of a maximum pressure strategy intended to cut off a critical source of revenue and force Iran to the negotiating table. But it will likely result in an increase in oil prices, resistance from countries that continue to buy Iranian oil, and a backlash from Tehran, according to Atlantic Council analysts.

“The Trump administration’s announcement is certain to face pushback from major importers of Iranian oil, raise prices for consumers, and further erode the utility of sanctions as a non-military tool of US foreign policy,” said Barbara Slavin, director of the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative.

As the US Congress considers passing new sanctions to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine, interference in US elections, and material support for Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, lawmakers should remain committed to a united approach with Washington’s European allies and ensure that the new legislation maximizes US cooperation with its partners, according to Atlantic Council Distinguished Ambassadorial Fellow Daniel Fried.

Two current bills, the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression (DASKA) Act and the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act , have been reintroduced in the US Senate as attempts to mandate the Trump administration place sanctions on Russia in response to specific bad behavior by the Kremlin. The latest sanctions push demonstrates that Congress still “continues to show antipathy towards Russian behavior,” in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Syria, and other places, according to Atlantic Council Global Energy Center Chairman Ambassador Richard Morningstar, who moderated an Atlantic Council panel on the sanctions measures on April 17. The event was cohosted by the Atlantic Council’s Economic Sanctions Initiative and the Global Energy Center.

President steps down after almost thirty years in office

By resigning from the presidency after almost thirty years, Nursultan Nazarbayev may have given his greatest gift to Kazakhstan: a peaceful transition to a new generation following nearly three decades of stability—a stability that was likely solidified by Nazarbayev’s willingness to commit human rights abuses and corruption.

Nothing should be taken for granted. In general, transitions in the former Soviet Union have proved difficult, sometimes involving revolutions, internal coups, and last-minute changes in the succession before the new leader takes control.

But although Nazarbayev effectively became president-for-life in 2007 when he secured a right to contest presidential elections indefinitely, he has in fact been planning carefully for at least twelve years to ensure a smooth transition in the event of his retirement or death in office.

MPs vote to seek to delay departure from the European Union

British Prime Minister Theresa May finally secured a key parliamentary victory on March 14 that strengthened the prospect she will eventually be able to get parliamentary approval for her deal to take Britain out of the European Union.

But the price she has had to pay is that Britain will seek a three-month extension to its planned exit date on March 29. And in that time, not least as a result of an impassioned intervention by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, pressure to hold a new referendum on whether Britain should end its forty-six-year membership of the world’s biggest trading block is expected to grow.

Moreover, while the government will now formally seek an extension to Article 50, the mechanism that sets the withdrawal date, it is for the twenty-seven remaining EU member states to decide whether to agree such an extension, and even one rejection would be enough to veto it.

On February 11, US ambassadors from twelve EU member states met in Warsaw to discuss the ways in which the United States can help the Three Seas Initiative, a project that seeks to facilitate interconnectivity on energy, infrastructure, and digitalization projects in Central and Eastern Europe. The meeting, led by the Atlantic Council and its Executive Chairman Emeritus retired Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., comes on the heels of US Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s visit to the Three Seas Initiative summit in Bucharest in September 2018, and a little over a year after US President Donald J. Trump endorsed the project while taking part in a 2017 summit in Warsaw.

No one knows just what will be the outcome of Britain’s fraught negotiations to leave the European Union—and that means no one knows whether the United Kingdom will remain united after Brexit.

Several ministers in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet, speaking anonymously, have told the BBC they believe a “no deal” Brexit could lead to a vote on Irish unification. Sinn Fein, the Republican party which wants to see the British province of Northern Ireland unite with the independent Republic of Ireland, has already called for a vote on Irish unity after Brexit.

The Atlantic Council convened government, private sector, and academic experts to set the global energy agenda for 2019 at the Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from January 11 to 13.

The future of the oil market was frequently discussed as policy makers and experts attempted to parse the dramatic developments of the past year and provide some guidance for what 2019 holds. Here are the highlights from those conversations: