All options on the table for NATO
Adrian Croft and Justyna Pawlak, Reuters – February 27, 2014
NATO plans and hope to retain a small presence in Afghanistan past 2014 together with United States forces. Due to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s reticence to sign a bilateral security agreement, the coalition forces must consider the possibility that they will be unable to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year. The assumption is that Karzai’s successor, who will take office in April, will sign the agreement, but coalition forces must now have plans in place in case the bilateral security agreement is never signed.
Syria to remove chemical weapons by the end of April
Dominic Evans and Michelle Nichols, Reuters – February 26, 2014
Having failed to meet the previous deadline, Syria agreed to a plan to remove its chemical weapon stocks by the end of April. Though Syria recently surrendered a fourth batch of chemicals weapons, it still has a significant amount to give up. Security troubles have plagued the removal efforts, though the OPCW argues that Syria should be able to meet the new April deadline despite the fighting still occurring in Syria.
Pakistani leaders will not delegate nuclear authority to military units
Elaine Grossman, National Journal – February 27, 2014
A senior Pakistani official has stated that civilian leaders will not delegate control of nuclear arms to unit commanders, even in a crisis with India, easing some concerns about command-and-control in Pakistan. The official, cited anonymously, addressed a range of concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, stating that the weapons were for deterrence only and that the security of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is of paramount importance to civilian and military leaders alike.
North Korea short-range missiles test unlikely to stoke tensions
AP – February 28, 2014
North Korea recently tested short-range Scud missiles in what is an apparent protest aimed at the joint US-South Korea military exercises currently under way. The United States and South Korea have stated that the fairly common tests will not be cause for increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea’s reaction to the exercises has been muted in comparison to last year’s hyperbolic threats.
Iran aims to keep nuclear program “intact”
Fredrik Dahl, Reuters – February 27, 2014
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that Iran intends to keep its nuclear program “intact” through a comprehensive deal with the P5 + 1. Though he cited substantive difficulties in reaching any such agreement, Zarif affirmed that Iran possesses the political will to assure the P5 + 1 that its nuclear program will be used for exclusively peaceful purposes.