Must-Reads from Around the World, May 23, 2012

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Jung Yeon-Je / AFP / Getty Images

A TV screen at a train station in Seoul showing North Korea's rocket launch on April 13, 2012

Going Rogue – Despite reports in China’s Global Times that North Korea had dismissed the possibility of an imminent nuclear test, Yonhap news agency in South Korea reported officials there as saying its neighbor was “technically ready” for a third atomic test. “North Korea will make a decision on conducting a nuclear test based on its political judgment,” one official said.

Driving Change – The Independent runs an interview with Manal al-Sharif, the Saudi woman who became a symbol of female emancipation for driving. “My father’s generation of Saudi men are more liberal than the men of my generation. But with women it’s the opposite. Women are much less conservative than the men now, and that leads to clashes,” she tells the U.K. paper.

Taking Stock – The Council on Foreign Relations reviews the recent NATO summit — and concludes that Afghanistan overshadowed the key issue of European defense spending. “Despite the new emphasis on “smart defense,” a combination of defense cutbacks and political weakness within the E.U. are likely to deny NATO that stronger Europe for some time to come,” it says.

State of Mind – As financially stricken Spaniards keep their eyes on the stock market, El País investigates the effect of the economic crisis on “the average citizen’s state of mind,” suggesting that it is trapped in a “cloud of social pessimism.” It describes the collective mood as con la que está, which literally means “with the downpour,” or as one sociologist put it, a “nightmare” feeling.

Revolution Revisited – Ahead of the country’s presidential elections, CNN interviews Egyptians about the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak last year, surmising that it still had “yet to accomplish much for Egypt.” The news organization reports that women “feel less safe” after dark, hotel managers are suffering from a dip in tourism, and “tired” and “irritated” young people feel disillusioned with the state of the country.

Nuclear Nerves – As U.N. officials and Iran’s leaders meet in Baghdad to reopen talks on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, The Wall Street Journal warns against the “mere perpetuation” of negotiations, using “confidence-building” measures that will not force Iran to abandon its nuclear endeavors. The paper describes this potential outcome as a “movie we’ve seen before.”