EUROPE

Treaty banning nuclear weapons took effect on January 22nd. The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) prohibits its signatories from producing, stockpiling, selling and using nuclear weapons. The international pact has been ratified by 51 states, though none are nuclear powers. The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov declared on January 20th that Russia remained committed to extending the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the United States and would welcome efforts promised by the administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to reach an agreement.

Hungary’s government on January 12th has reached a deal with China’s Sinopharm to buy its coronavirus vaccine. It is the country’s latest move to break away from Brussels as it tries to speed up inoculations to lift curbs on the economy. Hungary would be the first EU country to accept a Chinese vaccine if approved by Hungarian authorities. On January 20th NATO has introduced a new model of EOD robots. NATO at the University of Florence in Italy has developed the first generation of new EOD robots that are smaller, smarter and more agile than previous models; equipped with two innovative types of radar to detect and identify underground objects quickly. On December 28th the Albanian Ministry of Defense received 60 sets of ventilator consumables donated by the NATO Pandemic Response Trust Fund. Donation was made possible with financial contributions by the Czech Republic, Lithuania, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Borissov declared on January 12th that the government is considering installing Russian nuclear equipment acquired for its existing Kozloduy nuclear power plant, after abandoning the idea to use U.S. technology. The centre-right government has tasked the energy minister to draw up a financial model and a legal analysis for the new option, aimed at boosting energy security, the government said in a statement. The specialists of the International Mine Action Center of the Russian defense ministry continue demining works in the territory of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). The engineering units of the Russian peacekeeping forces have already cleared nearly 551 hectares of land, 205,3 km long roads. Over 23,7 thousand explosive devices were found and neutralized. Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared to work against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and South Africa, according to a laboratory study conducted by the U.S. drugmaker. On January 8th Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizer’s top viral vaccine scientists, said it was encouraging that the vaccine appears effective against the mutation, as well as 15 other mutations the company has previously tested against.

AMERICAS

A resident at a San Francisco RV park in California, USA was arrested on January 15th after the FBI found chemicals used to make explosives in his house. Nearby residents were evacuated out of caution and were receiving help in finding temporary shelter. Police said this appears to be an isolated incident and not linked to any larger plot. Materials used to build explosives were found on January 11th in California, USA during the search of the Stockton home of a man who was arrested Sunday 10th in connection with igniting an explosive device on the previous day. Authorities evacuated the 2400 block of W. Sonoma Avenue as the home was searched by both the San Joaquin Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team and the FBI. Canada Prime Minister Trudeau on January 21st has spoken to the CEO of Pfizer amid concerns of delays in vaccine delivery. CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said that the current shipment slowdown won’t hamper the country's long-term schedule and assured that 4 million doses of vaccine will be provided by the end of March. In Brazil, the health regulator authority Anvisa approved vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech and Britain’s AstraZeneca for emergency use, on January 17th. The country has recorded more than 209,000 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus since the start of the crisis.

ASIA

On January 18th, Japan's Kansai Electric Power Co Inc has restarted the reactor No. 4 at its Ohi nuclear plant in western Japan after completing scheduled maintenance and refueling. In December 2020, the Osaka district court revoked the operating permit for Ohi's No.3 and No.4 reactors, claiming they were vulnerable to major earthquakes. The government, which had granted the permit, has filed an appeal to overturn the ruling. A medical study from Wuhan, China published January 8th in the medical journal The Lancet has found out that symptoms of Covid-19 may linger for up to six months. The study looked at some of the first people to be hospitalized with the disease in Wuhan hospital from January to May 2020. Colonel Min Than, State Minister for Security and Border Affairs of Myanmar announced on January 18th that the Tatmadaw (Malaysian armed forces) will carry out mine clearance after the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army signed an agreement on the deployment of troops in Arakan State.

In January 2021 the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (Armac) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia has received approximately $2 million from the government of South Korea through the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF) for victims of mines or explosive remnants of war (ERW). The “Enhance Victim Assistance Programme in the ASEAN Member States (AMS)” is a three-year programme aiming to strengthen assistance provided to victims through different support mechanisms. In Laos, Russian military engineers have defused over 200 explosive devices since November 2020, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on January 19th. “Military servicemen from the International Anti-Mine Center of the Russian Armed Forces found over 200 explosive devices as part of a humanitarian demining mission in the Xiangkhouang province, Laos.

MIDDLE EAST

On January 2nd, a car bomb exploded in a market area on a main road in Ras al-Ain, Syria, killing two children and injuring their mother and several others. At least three shops were also damaged. A second incident took place near a bakery in Jinderes, located in northwest rural Aleppo. One person was reportedly killed, while two children were among the casualties.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack in Baghdad, Iraq on January 21st, killing at least 32 people. This was the first big suicide bombing happening in Iraq in three years. Local authorities consider it as a possible sign of the reactivation of Islamic State. The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (ODA), Izumi Nakamitsu, said on January 5th that the declaration that Syria had submitted on its chemical weapons status “cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.” She added that “until these outstanding issues are closed, the international community cannot have full confidence that the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons program has been eliminated.” Six policemen were wounded in an IED blast near a police outpost in Herat province, Afghanistan. The incident happened on January 19th at night-time in Angel District. Local officials told the media, that a mine was placed close to the outpost that left six afghani policemen wounded. Afghan National Army discovered a Taliban’s tunnel in Kunduz province, Afghanistan and defused 20 IEDs in the nearby area. The tunnel was excavated under civilians houses for terrorists' activities by Taliban.

AFRICA

Two French soldiers were killed during an operation in Mali. Their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in northeastern Mali on January 2nd, just five days after three others died in similar events. 50 French soldiers have now been killed in the West African nation since France first intervened in 2013 to help drive back jihadist forces, according to army staff. Five people died and three others were wounded when a homemade bomb exploded in eastern Algeria on January 14th, the Algerian defense ministry said. The victims were on board a vehicle when the explosion happened in the Tebessa Province, some 573 km (358 miles) from the capital, Algiers. Forty Ugandan soldiers serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) based in Arbiska, North West of Mogadishu on January 8th have completed a five-week training aimed at enhancing their capacity to counter the threat posed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

OCEANIA

A homemade explosive device has damaged an Adelaide house, in Australia. Although the investigation is in its early stages, police do not believe it was a random incident. A property in South Australia was stormed by heavily armed police today, where they allegedly uncovered prohibited drugs, stashes of money and an explosive device. A man and woman who live in the Moldavia Walk property in Osborne, about 20 kilometres North-West of the Adelaide, were arrested. On January 22nd Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia has successfully prevented a third wave of coronavirus infections. According to the latest epidemiological data and medical advice by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd, on January 22nd Australia had gone six days in a row with no local transmission.