U.S. needs a “fresh look” at North Korea
David Brunnstrom, Reuters – February 26, 2014
This past Wednesday, U.S. foreign policy and North Korea experts gathered on the Hill and said that the U.S. needed a “fresh look” at U.S. policy towards North Korea. The two think tanks that sponsored the event, National Security Network and the National Committee on North Korea, said Washington needs to shift from the typical “all or nothing” attitude it has maintained over the years and engage with Pyongyang as a way to revive talks in ending North Korea’s nuclear program. “Interim steps can provide an immediate value to the U.S. while putting more concrete steps towards denuclearization into the realm of the possible,” said Executive Director of National Committee on North Korea, Karin Lee. Experts said the report should be circulated on Capitol Hill and shared with U.S. state and defense departments. A copy of the report can be found here.
Former Russian Nuclear Officer: U.S. has violated INF Treaty ‘Numerous’ Times
Global Security Newswire – February 26, 2014
A former Russian nuclear commander has responded to U.S. media reports on concerns that Russia’s firings of a new ground-launched cruise missile has violated the INF Treaty by saying that the U.S. has technically violated the INF Treaty as well. U.S. antimissile tests that use medium-range targets have “formally violated the [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty. A violation is there, but in essence it is not the kind of violations that should worry Russia,” said Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin. The U.S. violations were apparently “a lot more numerous” than those Moscow is being accused of and the Russians had apparently voiced their concerns to the U.S. way before 2008.The Obama Administration has not formally declared Russia in breach of the INF accord, despite GOP pressure to do so. Experts have said that the administration is refraining from doing so at this point as it could cause Moscow to completely withdraw entirely from the pact.
Harry Reid blocks GOP on Iran sanctions…again
Burgess Everett, Politico – February 26, 2014
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is blocking a vote on Iran sanctions demanded by Senate Republicans. After failing to get a vote on the infamous “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act” authored by Senators Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk, Republicans are now attempting to roll out fresh economic penalties on Iran into their alternative to Democrats’ veterans’ benefits bill. On Wednesday evening, Senator Reid cut off debate on the bill and blocked consideration of amendments to the legislation, hence dimming any chance of immediate vote on Iran sanctions. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “There is no excuse for muzzling Congress on an issue of this importance to our own national security, to the security of Israel.” Senator Reid has sided with President Obama in giving diplomacy a chance and has responded, “The first amendment Republicans demand is an unrelated issue…Republicans say they want to help veterans, they have a strange way of showing it. We introduced a bill…Republicans immediately inject partisan politics into the mix.”
Iraq denies rumors of arms deal with Iran
Agence France-Presse, Defense News – February 26, 2014
After much U.S. pressure, Iraq has denied signing any deals for weapons and ammunition with Iran. Iraq did have a variety of international firms seeking to supply the Iraqis with ammunition and night vision equipment, including one company from Iran. But contrary to the media rumors, no contract was signed. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said, “any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation of United Nations sanctions on the Islamic Republic.” The U.S. has been the largest arms supplier to Iraq, giving more than than $15 billion in equipment, services and training. But recently, Iraqi officials have complained about the pace of American weapons delivery, hence providing a reason for other countries to provide weapons.
Army disqualifies 588 soldiers
Tom Brook, USA Today – February 26, 2014
The Army has disqualified 588 soldiers for various violations, ranging from sexual assault to child abuse to drunken driving. The number of disqualified soldiers come from the “positions of trust” and is 10 times higher than the initial number reported last summer. This disqualification comes not long after the American public learned that nuclear missile crews were cheating on tests and sleeping on duty while guarding some of our most dangerous weapons. Defense Secretary Hagel has said he was happy to learn that the Army widened the scope of their review and is grateful for the work they have done “to get a better grip on a very difficult issue and hold people accountable.”