April 12th, 2012
09:12 PM ET

White House: North Korea is wasting its money

White House statement on North Korea's launch attempt:

Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments. While this action is not surprising given North Korea’s pattern of aggressive behavior, any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security our allies in the region. FULL POST


Filed under: Asia • Military • North Korea • Obama
Why did North Korea launch a rocket?
A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of the rocket days before its launch
April 12th, 2012
08:08 PM ET

Why did North Korea launch a rocket?

By Jamie Crawford

With North Korea's launch of a rocket that most see as cover for a ballistic missile test, a deal to resume food aid from the United States now dead, the loud chorus from the international community that was already condemning the act as an unnecessary provocation is only likely to grow louder in the coming days.

"They have nothing to gain and only further isolation to anticipate should they go ahead with this," Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on CNN's John King, USA earlier this week.

The United States and its allies had been if anything unambiguous with their thoughts on the launch. So just why did Pyongyang go ahead with the launch? There is no shortage of answers or theories to that question, but many analysts who follow the country say the regime simply does not have that much to lose, and thus need not weigh much in the way of costs versus benefits going forward.

"How much more isolated can you get?" asks James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The United Nations has sanctioned North Korea many times over for its provocative acts of the past, and the country's largest economic and political benefactor China, is unlikely to support any additional penalties at the Security Council this time.
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Filed under: North Korea • Nuclear • Security Brief
North Korean rocket crashes soon after launching
April 12th, 2012
07:57 PM ET

North Korean rocket crashes soon after launching

By CNN's Tim Schwarz in Pyonguang

Defying warnings from the international community, North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Friday, but it appears to have broken apart before escaping the earth's atmosphere, U.S. officials said.

No element of the rocket reached space, said a U.S. official, who based that conclusion on data collected by the United States from its first few moments aloft.

"This was supposed to be associated with (Kim Jong Un's) ascension to power. So for this thing to fail ... is incredibly embarrassing," said Victor Cha, former director of Asian affairs for the U.S. National Security Council and now a Georgetown University professor.

The launch occurred at 7:39 a.m. Friday, both Yonhap and YTN reported, citing South Korean officials.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE


Filed under: North Korea
April 12th, 2012
06:26 PM ET

Afghanistan: reasons to be cheerful (opinion)

By Tlaloc Cutroneo

The American people and the international community deserve to know if all our efforts in Afghanistan are worth the sacrifice – in lives and resources. We need to know whether the Afghan people are preparing to take on responsibility for securing their own country. Are the Afghans readying to take the lead in securing their own country? After a year-long deployment throughout Afghanistan, I believe they are.

Everything about counter-insurgencies is unconventional and complex. They are people-centric and conducted on multiple tracks, involving both defensive and offensive operations, extensive intelligence gathering and economic intervention. FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Analysis
April 12th, 2012
06:07 PM ET

Disaster looms for people of Mali as country is split by revolt

By Tim Lister

Africa has seen some ugly divorces in recent times: Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan. Now Mali is threatened with partition as a rebellion flares in the north and political uncertainty grips the capital, Bamako. Mali’s neighbors and western governments are looking on anxiously as drug traffickers and Islamist groups affiliated with al Qaeda take advantage of the vacuum – in a region already blighted by hunger, poverty and weak government.

The origins of Mali’s collapse are two-fold. In January Tuareg rebels began attacking towns in the vast deserts of northern Mali. Many had recently returned from fighting for Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, bringing guns and vehicles with them. Then, on March 22, there was a coup by mid-ranking officers in Mali’s army angry with corruption and the lack of resources for fighting the rebellion. FULL POST


Filed under: Africa • Al Qaeda • Gadhafi • Libya • Mali • US Africa Command
Navy jet crash photos released
April 12th, 2012
05:19 PM ET

Navy jet crash photos released

The U.S. Navy released some stunning photos from last week's F/A-18 crash.  In the photo above, the wreckage is being prepared for removal.  Here are more photos: FULL POST


Filed under: Navy
The limits of North Korea's media openness
April 12th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

The limits of North Korea's media openness

By Adam Levine

North Korea's opening of its launch pad to journalists has been a boon to North Korea watchers who have relied mostly on satellite imagery to take stock of the country's progress in developing long range missile and rocket capability. The flood of still photos and video have helped shape their understanding of what North Korea is up to.

"It is almost like a painting of the entire site," said Allison Puccioni, an analyst with IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. "I think we are learning a lot about North Korea." FULL POST

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Filed under: Asia • North Korea • Satellite imagery
April 12th, 2012
02:26 PM ET

Pakistan sets guidelines for U.S. relations

Pakistan's parliament set out new guidelines for its relations with the United States, as it agreed to re-engage with Washington after months of tension over deadly airstrikes on a Pakistani border post by NATO forces and other issues.

A list of recommendations approved by lawmakers includes a call for an immediate end to U.S. drone attacks and no further use of Pakistan as a transportation route for weapons into Afghanistan. FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Central Intelligence Agency • drones • Intelligence • ISAF • Military • Pakistan
April 12th, 2012
05:09 AM ET

Massachusetts man to be sentenced on terror conspiracy charges

By Kristina Sgueglia

A Massachusetts man will be sentenced Thursday after his conviction on multiple terrorism conspiracy charges in a case that raised questions about how terror suspects can be prosecuted.

Tarek Mehanna, 29, was found guilty in December of conspiring to help al Qaeda, conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country and making false statements.

He could face up to life in prison.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Terrorism
In North Korea, when is a missile not a missile?
April 12th, 2012
02:11 AM ET

In North Korea, when is a missile not a missile?

By Jill Dougherty

Log on to the Korean Central News Agency's state-run website and you'll find a concise explanation of what North Korea's launch of an Unha-3 long-range missile is all about: It's not about the missile, it's about the satellite sitting on top of that missile.

"Kwangmyongsong-3, which is to be launched under the DPRK government's policy on space development for peaceful purposes, is an earth observation satellite for collecting data essential for the country's economic development," the agency says.

For the United States, and most other countries, it's very much about the missile. Missiles can be used innocuously to launch peaceful satellites - and they can be used to deliver nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. As the National Security Council's Tommy Vietor quipped Wednesday: "North Korea doesn't need to spend this kind of money on a weather satellite. Go to weather.com."

FULL POST