By Jennifer Rizzo
While new satellite images show preparations for what is believed to be a coming long-range missile launch by North Korea, a second attempt in 2012 would be unprecedented, a top satellite image analyst told Security Clearance.
There have been four launches of this scale since 1998, including a failed attempt in April of this year. A second launch in 2012 would be the first time North Korea has launched two systems of this class, their largest missile class, in less than three years.
"The fact that they are now apparently preparing for a second launch in 2012 indicated that the decision to do this was made at the highest level," said DigitalGlobe analyst Joe Bermudez.
The North Koreans are looking for "maximum political impact" domestically, regionally and internationally with a test launch such as this, according to Bermudez, calling it a "very politically motivated event."
The timing of a launch at the end of this year would coincide with many consequential events, said Bermudez.
South Korea will be launching a rocket into space by the end of this week. North Korea and Japan will be holding another set of bilateral talks early in December and the South Korean presidential election will take place in less than a month. North Korea watchers say new leader Kim Jung Un may be responding to internal political pressure from hard-liners to send a message.
From Ivan Watson
In a potential escalation of the Syrian conflict, Turkey asked NATO on Wednesday for Patriot missiles to bolster its air defenses against its southern neighbor.
A letter to NATO included the "formal request" that the alliance send "air defense elements," according to a Turkish government statement that cited "the threats and risks posed by the continuing crisis in Syria to our national security."
The statement added that the NATO Council would convene "shortly" to consider the matter.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a Twitter post that the request would be considered without delay.
In a statement on Wednesday, Rasmussen said the letter from Turkey requested Patriot missiles that would "contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO's south-eastern border" and serve as "a concrete demonstration of alliance solidarity and resolve."
Rasmussen's statement said three NATO countries have available Patriot missiles - Germany, the Netherlands and the United States - and it would be up to them to decide if they can deploy them and for how long.
By Jennifer Rizzo
Future unmanned ships could be retrofitted with missile-firing systems following successful prototype tests, but how long before the technology can be deployed remains a question, U.S. Navy officials say.
Six long-range missiles were fired during three days of testing last month, marking the first time missiles have been fired from any unmanned ship.
The seafaring drone, called the NUWC-4, is a smaller craft developed to defend against a potential attack of ships swarming toward naval vessels, according to the Navy. Terrorists and pirates have been known to use these tactics.
The "project was developed in response to recent world events involving swarms of small attack craft, as well as threat assessments outlined in recent studies conducted by the Naval Warfare Development Command," said NAVSEA Special Warfare Program Manager Capt. Thomas D. Gajewski. "Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms."
By Chris Lawrence
Syrian rebels are through waiting for substantial arms from western nations and Arab countries and are instead increasingly cutting their own deals to get weapons from extremists, including al Qaeda-like groups, a senior U.S. lawmaker told CNN.
"Even rebels we've identified as somebody we could work with have partnered with jihadists, because they have their own sources of money and weapons," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said in an interview.
The Obama administration has been cautiously aiding in the vetting of Syrian rebels, and sticking to its policy of only providing non-lethal aid like computers and satellite communication gear.
By the CNN Wire Staff
A U.S. soldier laid out an elaborate plot by a group of active and former military members to overthrow the government, telling a southeast Georgia court Monday that he was part of what prosecutors called an "an anarchist group and militia."
Dressed in his Army uniform, Pfc. Michael Burnett spoke in a Long County court about the group of Army soldiers and its role in the December deaths of a former soldier Michael Roark and his teenage girlfriend Tiffany York. Roark, he said, was killed because he allegedly took money from the group and planned to leave.FULL STORY
By Pam Benson
The United States government is seeking to reject lawsuits demanding information about drone strikes that target suspected terrorists overseas, saying releasing details on the program would have a major effect on counterterrorism efforts.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in New York after a Freedom of Information Act request they submitted to the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the CIA, was denied. The rights group is seeking the release of a copy of the memo outlining the Obama administration's program that targets suspected terrorists overseas. The New York Times filed a related lawsuit.
In its response, the government asked for a summary judgment dismissing the complaints and defended its decision not to release the requested information.
“Even to describe the number and details of most of these documents would reveal information that could damage the government’s counterterrorism efforts,” the government said, further maintaining that refusal to disclose the information is consistent with exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act that permit the withholding of records when doing so is in the public interest. FULL POST
By Pam Benson
Recent satellite imagery shows Iran continues to clean up areas of a controversial military site believed to be involved in its nuclear program, according to analysis of the images by a Washington-based think tank.
The Institute for Science and International Study obtained imagery from GeoEye taken on June 7 that shows heavy machinery tracks and earth displacement consistent with a cleanup effort at the Parchin Military Complex, according to the institute's analysis.
GeoEye is a commercial satellite imaging company.
By Mike Mount, Senior National Security Producer
In what is shaping up to be a classic congressional right vs. left fight over defense and war funding, both the House and Senate are gearing up to battle over some expected and not-so-expected items in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill, showing its hand to members of the House of Representatives on what it felt should be authorized for military spending.
The act authorizes spending limits and sets defense policy, but it does not actually appropriate the funds.
The committee version must still pass a full Senate vote. The House signed off on its bill this month. While a date has yet to be announced, both the final House and Senate versions will go through extensive negotiations to hammer out a final version of the legislation, expected in the fall.
Both bills have numerous amendments that will be debated and fought over in the coming months. Keep an eye on these five if you like political fireworks.
By Jennifer Rizzo
The United States will provide an additional $70 million to support Israel's short-range missile defense system, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday.
Panetta issued a statement saying he was directed by President Barack Obama to fill Israel's request for the cash needed to run the Iron Dome system.
The United States has already provided Israel with $205 million for the system, in addition to the roughly $3 billion given to Israel annually for security assistance. The Defense Department plans to request extra funding for Iron Dome over the next three years. An exact figure of additional assistance was not given.
Israel's Iron Dome is a portable anti-rocket system built to take down short-range missiles. First deployed in April 2011, the system targets incoming rockets it identifies as possible threats to city centers and fires an interceptor missile to destroy them in the air.
In March, Iron Dome was responsible for taking down 80% of the several hundred rockets directed toward Israel, Pentagon spokesman George Little said at a Thursday news conference.
"It's a proven system," Little said. "Missile defense is important to Israel and we're committed to supporting the Israelis."
The announcement came after a meeting at the Pentagon between Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Editors Note: Art Keller is a former case officer in the CIA's Counter Proliferation Division. He currently is a writer on intelligence and national security issues and recently published his first novel, "Hollow Strength."
By Art Keller, special to Security Clearance
As a new round of nuclear negotiations with Iran is set to begin this month, it brings up the question: In the not-unlikely event that this round of diplomacy collapses, as all previous rounds have, where would that leave the West? Is bombingIran's nuclear facilities the unavoidable final recourse?
Despite an abundance of saber-rattling, Western leaders have yet to convincingly explain why policy toward Iran should differ from policy toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Did we start bombing the Soviets because they acquired nuclear capability in 1949? Even though the Soviets regularly claimed their objective was the defeat of the West? Even though Soviets gave arms and money to proxies around the world, including direct support to terrorists? Even though they posed a far greater threat than Iran ever could? Are we doing that with North Korea? Even though the North Koreans have "the bomb" and have often used rhetoric that is even harsher than the Soviets?