On the web: nuclear progress, gold bubbles, Ashton’s diplomacy, and key thinkers of 2009…

– With the US and Russia reportedly close to agreeing a successor START deal, Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi chart the next steps for a secure nuclear future. Details of their recently published report on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament can be found here. Henry Kissinger, meanwhile highlights the importance of kick-starting progress on six-party talks with North Korea.

– Elsewhere, Nouriel Roubini reflects on “gold bubbles” and the need to beware the calls of “gold bugs”, given that the “recent rise in gold prices is only partially justified by fundamentals”. The FT’s Alphaville blog offers an alternate view.

– Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, outlines her vision of a “quiet diplomacy” keenly focused on “getting results”. The BBC’s Europe Editor, Gavin Hewitt, assesses the upcoming challenges she is likely to face – whether a winter energy crisis, shaping a coherent EU policy towards the Middle East, or establishing the much-trumpeted EU diplomatic service. Charlemagne, meanwhile, argues that when it comes to European foreign policy there are simply “too many cooks”. Philip H. Gordon, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, offers his thoughts on what the post-Lisbon landscape is likely to mean for US-EU relations.

– Finally, Prospect presents 25 key public intellectuals that have helped us navigate the squalls of the financial crisis – Simon Johnson, Avinash Persaud, and Adair Turner make up the top 3. Niall Ferguson, meanwhile, offers his take on the most influential thinkers of the past now showing renewed relevance – Keynes, Polanyi, Kindleberger and Darwin, among others, have places on his list.