Happy New Year, everyone!  I’ve finally landed back in my Secure, Undisclosed Location, and so here’s a little something to start 2015 off right!  By the way, the acronym UNBARC (pronounced You-Enn-Bark) used in the header line on the facing page, stands for United Nations Bureau for Atomic Research and Control.  In case you wanted to know.

Many thanks to everyone for being so patient with me.  Frankly, with all the traveling and such, my vacations can often be busier than my regular work-week.  But I feel good, and have gotten some rest and relaxation and to see some friends and relatives, and I hope you have all done likewise.

All the best, and here’s hoping for a good year for everyone!  God bless!

Oh, and of course, the text:

DIPLOMATIC APPELLATION: Estados Unidos do Brasil
CAPITAL: Brasilia, D.F.
AREA: 3,287,597 sq. mi. (not including Unincorporated Antarctic Territory)
POPULATION: 202.6 Million (1996 est.)
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal Constitutional Democratic Republic
HEAD OF STATE: President
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: President (President is both Head of State and Head of Government)
INDEPENDENCE: 1822 (from Portugal)
ESTABLISHMENT: 1900 (current Constitution)

Brazil’s atomic program is one of the most advanced outside the UNA, with a broad emphasis on both strategic and tactical weapons. As a leading political force in the Southern Coalition, Brazil sees a strong deterrent force as critical to securing CONASUR’s international neutrality policy. Relations with the Cuba and the USA are particularly volatile, as popular opinion in Brazil sees Cuban atomic weapons as part of a policy of encirclement by the United States, and the UNA generally. Although other South American nations are technically entitled to develop atomics of their own, Brazil has effectively prevented them from doing so by estabishing a web of bilateral relations with Argentina to limit the availability of fissile materials in South America. Other rising powers in the Southern Coalition, most notably Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, have expressed resentment at this policy, but have so far gone along with it in order to avoid touching off a power struggle within CONASUR itself. In this sense, however, Brazil’s atomic umbrella is coming to be seen as self-defeating in the long run, more of a coercive measure within South America, instead of a true defense strategy.

DIPLOMATIC APPELLATION: Confederación Argentina
CAPITAL: Buenos Aires
LARGEST CITY: Buenos Aires
AREA: 1,073,518 sq. mi. (not including Unincorporated Antarctic Territory)
POPULATION: 43.9 Million (1996 est.)
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal Constitutional Democratic Republic
HEAD OF STATE: President
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: President (President is both Head of State and Head of Government)
INDEPENDENCE: 1810 (from Spain)
ESTABLISHMENT: 1853 (current Constitution)

Argentina was the first South American country to develop atomics, having been provided with schematics of a Russian SS-V missile warhead in 1978 through as-yet undisclosed espionage sources. Argentina has recently fallen behind Brazil in weapons production, but remains South America’s leading producer of refined fissile materials, and provides Brazil with the majority of its Uranium. The relationship with Brazil is not a consistently positive one, however. The main subject of dispute is over the Antarctic Territories which both powers claim, and Argentina was forced to accept a settlement which shifted its original claim farther to the West. Though the final settlement line was agreed in 1983, Argentina has been exploiting its Antarctic territories more aggressively than Brazil, and has reportedly been prospecting for Uranium well beyond the demarcation line. This is the main source of Argentine Uranium, and it has become a matter of some dispute internationally, especially with South Africa and Australia, which also have competing Antarctic claims. Reports have been made that Argentina has a significant military presence in Antarctica, though this is unconfirmed.

DIPLOMATIC APPELLATION: Jami‘at ad-Duwal al-‘Arabiyya
CAPITAL: Baghdad (Executive Office); Amman (Secretariat); Cairo (League Parliament)
AREA: 12,748,900 sq. mi.
POPULATION: 317.4 Million (1996 est.)
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Economic Cartel and Transnational Confederacy
HEAD OF STATE: President of the League Council
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: General Secretary
INDEPENDENCE: 1946 (Persian Gulf War)
ESTABLISHMENT: 1948 (Alexandria Protocol)

Officially, the Arab League neither confirms nor denies that it possesses an atomic arms capability. Most analysts agree that at least one nation in the alliance, probably Hejaz-Nejd or Israel-Palestine, has an arsenal of weapons, and the implications are not lost on geostrategic thinkers in both the Eastern and Western Blocs. The Arab League is often described as a “Closed State,” but this is not entirely accurate. Travel into and out of League States is simply heavily regulated, and trade is controlled by a complex network of tarriffs and customs duties which make the process exceedingly complicated compared to trade with the UNA or CONASUR. The Arab League’s primary power is not atomic, however, but economic. The League nations possess enormous reosurces of fossil fuels and natural gas, and thereby manage to control crude oil, liquified natural gas and other energy source prices on a global scale. The League’s stance in international policy is one of “armed neutrality,” and its cooperation with other nations is limited. Operation Scimitar, the 1987 action to put down a Communist insurrection in Iraq with American and Cuban support, is the most notable exception.