Syria rebuffs mediation offer
March 13th, 2012
06:51 PM ET

Syria rebuffs mediation offer

By Elise Labott and Joe Vaccarello

President Bashar al-Assad rebuffed the efforts of the joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to mediate an end to the violence, three administration officials tell CNN.

Ahmad Fawzi, Annan’s spokesperson, said that the Syrians did respond to proposals Annan presented when he visited Syria this week.

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Possible site of Iran explosive tests identified, think tank says
Suspected high explosive test chamber building at Parchin military complex in Iran. [March 4, 2012 DigitalGlobe]
March 13th, 2012
06:05 PM ET

Possible site of Iran explosive tests identified, think tank says

By Pam Benson

A Washington think tank says it has identified the building at an Iranian military base where international inspectors suspect Iran may have conducted explosives tests connected with a possible nuclear weapons program.

In an exclusive interview with Security Clearance, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said commercial satellite imagery shows a building on the sprawling Parchin military complex just south of Tehran that may be the location of a high-explosive test chamber.

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Filed under: FIRST ON CNN/EXCLUSIVE • IAEA • IAEA • Iran • Nuclear • Satellite imagery • weapons
March 13th, 2012
03:57 PM ET

Investigators probing whether alcohol a factor in Afghanistan shootings

By Barbara Starr and Chris Lawrence

The military is investigating whether alcohol was a factor in the weekend shootings allegedly committed by a U.S. soldier in two villages in Afghanistan, two senior military officials told CNN Tuesday.

One of the senior military officials said alcohol was found on the base in the area where the suspect lived. It is not clear yet if the alcohol belonged to the soldier; a toxic screening was conducted but the results have not been returned, the official said. FULL POST

Military's rare earth concerns
A rare earth mineral mine in China
March 13th, 2012
02:08 PM ET

Military's rare earth concerns

The Obama administration case against China's handling of exports of rare earth minerals is not just because of business concerns, it is a national security concern, as well. China's dominant position in the production of rare earth minerals has long-reaching implications for the U.S. Department of Defense. As our Laurie Ure reported back in 2010, there is widespread use of rare earth materials in defense systems, including precision-guided munitions, lasers, communication systems, radar systems, avionics, night vision equipment, satellites and more. FULL POST

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Filed under: China • Military • Obama • Pentagon
Clinton to ambassadors: Stay put
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the second annual Global Chiefs of Mission Conference at the State Department Tuesday.
March 13th, 2012
01:02 PM ET

Clinton to ambassadors: Stay put

By Elise Labott

The 2012 presidential election is weighing on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's mind, but it's a human resource issue that is her biggest concern.

Addressing U.S. ambassadors from around the world who are back in Washington for a group conference, Clinton asked those whose terms are expected to end this summer or following the elections to stay in their jobs, amid fears that political infighting might make it difficult to replace them before the election.

"Now I should also note that there will be changes in our ambassadorial corps, both this summer and following the November elections, as is customary at the end of a presidential term," she said Tuesday.

"The foreign policy of the United States, however, does not stop for elections. It requires consistent direction and management, so it is important that our ambassadors work to remain at their posts until either the Senate has confirmed a replacement or specific departure instructions are given," Clinton explained.
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In Yemen, an emboldened al Qaeda
March 13th, 2012
10:07 AM ET

In Yemen, an emboldened al Qaeda

By Paul Cruickshank, Pam Benson and Tim Lister

On the maps of Yemen it's called Jaar - a dusty, dilapidated sort of place with a population of some 40,000. But the group that has controlled Jaar for the past year, al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al Shariah, has changed the town's name to the Emirate of Qar.

Now Jaar is in the cross hairs of both U.S. and Saudi counter-terrorism agencies, following Ansar al Shariah's attack on a military base near Zinjibar on the coast about 20 miles (28 kilometers) away. The group seized large amounts of weaponry and took more than 70 Yemeni soldiers hostage.  It is threatening to kill its captives unless about 300 al Qaeda members in Yemeni jails are freed. FULL POST