Mike Shuster

Vladimir Putin is once again the president of Russia.

Putin, who held the job from 2000 to 2008, spent the past four years as prime minister because the Russian Constitution prohibits a third consecutive term.

So his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, held the office for the past four years. Now they are switching places, with Putin returning as president and Medvedev tapped to be the prime minister.

On Monday, Vladimir Putin will again become president of Russia. When he is inaugurated in the Kremlin, it will be for a third term, even though the Russian constitution limits presidents to two four-year terms.

The restriction, however, is for two consecutive terms. It doesn't rule out a third term if someone else holds the presidency in the interim. That's exactly what Dmitri Medvedev did. He was elected president after Putin, but declined a run for a second term.

This political swap succeeded, but Putin will be leading a different Russia after his re-inauguration.

As North Korea reaches the final stage of preparations for a long-range rocket launch, concern is growing that it is in the early stages of preparing its underground test site for another nuclear explosion.

Pyongyang established the pattern three years ago when it tested a similar rocket and then followed it a month later with a nuclear test.

This time around, there may be a more urgent need to test a nuclear device. The bomb is very likely the result of a significant expansion of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Recent developments in North Korea are puzzling watchers of the "Hermit Kingdom" in both the U.S. and South Korea.

There are some signs of change within the new leadership in North Korea — and there are signs of resistance to change as well.

When he was in Seoul, South Korea, last week, President Obama said he didn't know who is calling the shots in Pyongyang, which is making it difficult to determine what's next for North Korea.

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President Obama came to South Korea to talk about global nuclear security with world leaders, but found himself trying to build a unified front against North Korea's planned rocket launch next month.

Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak strenuously warned North Korea not to go ahead with the launch. In a speech Monday at the summit in Seoul, Obama used some of the toughest language he has ever used addressed to the leaders of North Korea.

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No nation has been sanctioned so frequently, and so thoroughly, as the Islamic Republic of Iran. For more than 30 years, the country has been under some kind of punitive economic measure.

The goal has been to prevent Iran from receiving and using the billions of dollars in oil profits that finance its nuclear program.

But none have been tougher, according to President Obama, than the sanctions his administration has imposed on Iran's banking system.

The troubled relationship between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency doesn't appear to be getting any better.

Back in February, senior agency delegations traveled twice to Iran to clarify its concerns about possible nuclear weapons work.

And on Monday, the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation that would allow the agency to give credible assurances that Iran's nuclear work is entirely peaceful.

Iran holds parliamentary elections on Friday, the first since the disputed, and many believe fraudulent, presidential election in 2009.

But unlike that presidential poll, candidates seeking to take on the country's conservative rulers will not be taking part Friday; they are mostly under house arrest or have been in prison for years now.

The focus will be on which conservatives end up on top and how many votes are cast.

Iran has unveiled significant developments on two important components of its nuclear program: the centrifuges used to enrich uranium and the uranium used to fuel a research reactor.

The country has made no secret of its work in these areas. But the news on Wednesday suggests that Iran may be making progress in its nuclear program.

Iran also announced that it is cutting off oil sales to several European nations, only to reverse itself hours later.

Here are two things you don't often hear mentioned in the same sentence: social media and nuclear weapons.

Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control, quickly links those two unlikely partners in conversation. She's behind a campaign to discover how new communications tools can help rid the world of some of the dangers of nuclear weapons.

Crowdsourcing Nuclear Problems

Gottemoeller is an avid user of Twitter, and it made her wonder how Twitter and other methods of crowdsourcing a problem can help her in her work.

A senior delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency visits Iran on Sunday in a renewed attempt to probe aspects of Iran's nuclear program that could be connected to nuclear weapons work.

For years, the IAEA has been trying to get answers to some very uncomfortable questions about Iran's nuclear program.

Iran insists it has only a peaceful, civilian nuclear program, and so far it has refused to discuss evidence that it is engaging in some nuclear weapons work. But international pressure on Tehran is growing.

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