March 1st, 2012
09:05 PM ET

More Afghans targeting U.S. partners

By CNN's Nick Paton Walsh

A gunman in an Afghan National Army uniform and another man shot dead two NATO soldiers at a combat outpost in southern Afghanistan Thursday, authorities said.

The dead soldiers were Americans, according to Niaz Mohammad Sarhadi, the district chief in Kandahar province, where the shooting happened. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, however, did not immediately specify the service members' nationalities.

Thursday's shooting was the third at a base or government building since news emerged that U.S. troops mistakenly burned Qurans and other religious materials early last week - an incident that has sparked outrage, protests, and violence across Afghanistan.

All three shootings were carried out by men in official clothing.

Four Americans were killed in the earlier attacks. If the troops killed Thursday are indeed American, that would bring the death toll from the three attacks to six.

Click here for the full story

Different shades of red line for Iran
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inspects centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site
March 1st, 2012
07:00 PM ET

Different shades of red line for Iran

Analysis by Pam Benson

The time frame for knowing whether Iran has crossed a so-called red line toward making a nuclear weapon could be shrinking as Iran increases its uranium enrichment capacity. (Read also: Rational or not, Iran is a real danger)

Last week's report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated Iran had significantly stepped up its enrichment operation, adding centrifuges used to process uranium at its Natanz and Fordow facilities and producing far greater quantities of 20% enriched uranium.

If Iran continues to enrich uranium to that level at the current expanded rate, nuclear experts say Iran would have enough material to further enrich to make a crude bomb, at the very least, by early next year. To do so, Iran would have to go another step and further enrich to the 90% level to make weapons-grade uranium, but analysts believe that is not a technically difficult achievement for Iran.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Analysis • Clapper • Hillary Clinton • IAEA • Intelligence • Iran • Israel • Nuclear • Panetta • Rep. Mike Rogers • weapons
U.S. sees "no fracturing" of Assad regime
March 1st, 2012
06:19 PM ET

U.S. sees "no fracturing" of Assad regime

By Barbara Starr and Jamie Crawford

After weeks of collecting intelligence on Syria and watching the attacks by the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. sees "no fracturing" of the Syrian regime and assesses al-Assad could remain in power for some time to come if the situation does not change, according to a senior U.S. official.

This the basic conclusion of top officials closely watching Syria, the official said. Unless something changes in the next several days, this will also be the message delivered to the Senate Armed Services Committee next week by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The hearing, called for Wednesday, is the first public hearing in which both men will be publicly questioned by Congress on the Syrian crisis.

Sen. John McCain, the senior Republican on the committee, has already called for arming rebel forces, something the defense secretary expects to be asked about, according to the official. The issue of U.S. military planning for options in Syria is also expected to arise, but officials say the secretary and the general may not be able to offer many specifics in an open session before the public.

Instead, they are likely to talk more about the current situation in Syria and how the U.S. views the al-Assad regime.
FULL POST

Rational or not, Iran is a real danger
March 1st, 2012
03:31 PM ET

Rational or not, Iran is a real danger

Editor's note: James Jay Carafano is director of The Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.

By James Jay Carafano, Special to CNN

Trying to understand largely closed regimes is never easy.  Consider North Korea or Iran. How are we to understand decision-making as opaque and unexpected as Lady Gaga's dress choices?

It's always tempting to avoid the difficulty of understanding foreign powers' seemingly unfathomable decisions by adopting simplistic explanations. Enemies we think we understand are dubbed "rational." Those whose behavior puzzles us we deem "irrational." FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Iran • Middle East • Opinion
Procrastination as a military strategy
March 1st, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Procrastination as a military strategy

By Adam Levine

It's the "meat ax" hanging over the Pentagon, to borrow a colorful phrase from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. It's so fearsome it could end America's position as a global power, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So what is the Department of Defense doing about this incredible threat? Hoping it goes away.

As unlikely as it sounds, defense officials insist that aside from trying to convince Congress to stop it, the Pentagon is not planning for a possible $500 billion more in imposed cuts to the defense budget over the next decade that could begin to take effect at the end of the year. That would be on top of the half a billion dollars it is already planning to cut back over the next ten year. FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Budget • Congress • Defense Spending • Dempsey • Military • Panetta
Analysis: North Korea deal promising, but questions persist
March 1st, 2012
03:18 AM ET

Analysis: North Korea deal promising, but questions persist

By Elise Labott

Never a regime to do something for nothing, North Korea took what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called a "modest first step" in agreeing to halt its nuclear and missile program in exchange for food aid.

But Clinton knows full well that 20 years of broken promises by North Korea to successive American administrations, both Democrat and Republican, give good reason to pause before celebrating.

The deal though is a promising sign, a first step that is conciliatory rather than belligerent, as North Korea agreed to stop nuclear activity at its main facility in Yongbyon and impose a moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launched in exchange for 240,000 tons of food assistance.

It also promised to allow international inspectors into nuclear sites that have gone unexamined for close to five years.

FULL POST


Filed under: Arms Control • Hillary Clinton • IAEA • Kim Jong Il • Kim Jong-un • North Korea • Nuclear • Secretary of State
A difference of opinion on Iran threat
March 1st, 2012
03:10 AM ET

A difference of opinion on Iran threat

By Kevin Flower reporting from Jerusalem

As national security teams in Washington and Jerusalem busily prepare for the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the pages of newspapers in Israel and the U.S. are full of analysis, reporting and predictions about what exactly the two will discuss.

Iran and its nuclear program, of course, are expected to top the agenda. All eyes will be on the post-meeting statement that the two leaders are expected to issue as well as the respective speeches each will deliver before the annual Washington gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobbying group better known as AIPAC.

Israel and the United States believe Iran is working to develop a nuclear weapon program while the government in Tehran maintains its program is peaceful.

FULL POST


Filed under: Arms Control • Iran • Israel • Middle East • Nuclear • Obama