A Defense Intelligence Agency finding that North Korea possesses nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles was thrust into public by a senior U.S. House staff member who was merely doing his job, congressional sources say.
In a new twist, a House source tells Defense News that a DIA congressional liaison told a senior House Armed Services Committee aide that while the finding was unclassified, the Obama administration wanted to keep it under wraps. More
Congress is back. For better or worse.
With the exception of a Friday or Monday here and a week there, the U.S. House and Senate are scheduled to be in session 13 of the next 17 weeks. Both chambers’ next lengthy recess will be the annual August break.
The immediate legislative focus on Capitol Hill will be on non-defense and -national security issues: gun control and immigration. But there are several things for defense wonks to keep an eye on as the 113th Congress attempts to move beyond the recent partisanship that stalled many bills and left Washington lurching from crisis to crisis. More
It may not look like much, but the operation pictured above is heightening tensions on the Korean peninsula and even caused the North Korean government to declare an end to the armistice which concluded the Korean war. Operation Key Resolve is a joint training exercise between the U.S. and South Korean armed forces that began last week and is scheduled to continue through March 21. In the past the military released a barrage of photos during the annual exercise, but this time the picture above is one of the only snapshots of the goings on.
The scene for about five hours Thursday afternoon on the Senate side of the Capitol was nothing shy of controlled chaos. Senators, staffers and journalists darted about from gaggle to gaggle, meeting to meeting like frenzied bees around a nest.
Check DefenseNews.com for our coverage from a memorable Thursday — there’s more to come in the next few days as we wrestle with what it all means. But it’s the nature of the journalism business that some things don’t make it into published coverage. After the jump are some leftover nuggets from your correspondent’s notebook and recorder as we mop up the messy first round of the Hagel nomination. More
And one of the issues on which Obama must decide whether he wants to pick a fight is nuclear weapons. Obama long has advocated for fewer U.S. and Russian warheads. And reports surfaced Monday that Obama intended to call for more further shrinkage of the U.S. atomic fleet in his SOTU address. More
U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., appears — shy of any stumbles during today’s confirmation hearing — mere days away from finally becoming America’s top diplomat. This morning, Kerry will testify before the panel he technically still chairs, the Foreign Relations Committee, for his confirmation hearing.
The panel’s ranking Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, told reporters Tuesday he expects Kerry will have to field some tough questions. But Corker predicted the overall tone of the back-and-forth “will be good.” After live-blogging over five hours of hearings yesterday on the Benghazi attack, your Intercepts correspondent figured a few more hours of instant-journalism was in order today. Kerry is expected to be asked about President Obama’s second term foreign policy agenda, plans for dealing with Iran and its nuclear-arms ambitions, rogue states like North Korea, and how Kerry views America’s necessary role in global affairs.
1:47 p.m. — Sens. Corker and Menendez wrap up the hearing by again praising Kerry’s qualifications for the secretary of state post. Menendez bangs the gavel Kerry soon will relinquish, ending what was a long but not contentious confirmation hearing. Note: Kerry says he plans to sit down next week with President Obama to discuss a myriad foreign policy issues. He could be confirmed by then. Thanks for stopping by. We’ll be here next Thursday (Jan. 31) with another live blog when former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Obama’s controversial defense secretary nominee, appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing. – John T. Bennett
1:36 p.m. — Asked just how the U.S. should shape a military build-up in the Asia-Pacific region, Kerry says he “is not convinced an increased military ramp up is necessary yet.” He then dives into the numbers: “We have more bases out there than any other nation, including China. We have a lot more forces than any other nation, including China.” Kerry also struck a cautionary tone, saying if the U.S. puts too many bases or troops in Beijing’s backyard, “China will wonder whether the U.S. is trying to circle us.” What’s more, the nominee says “pivot” is not accurate for administration’s foreign policy focus shift toward Asia is not quite accurate because “we are not turning away” from any other region. — John T. Bennett
1:27 p.m. — America must “build” its relations with Pakistan, not diminish them, as Paul suggested Washington should do. – John T. Bennett
1:23 p.m. – Paul brought up Egyptian President Morsi’s harsh comments about Israelis and asks Kerry if “it’s wise to send them F-16s and Abrams tanks?” Kerry did not directly weigh in on arms sales to leaders who insult U.S. allies. But he did label Morsi’s comments “reprehensible” before telling Paul that not everything in foreign policy “is black-and-white” and noting Washington “[has] vital interests” with Egypt. Under Morsi, Egypt has lived by its landmark peace treaty with Israel, Kerry said. He told Paul his experience shows just because a democratic election puts in office someone the U.S. doesn’t like doesn’t mean the U.S. can afford to just walk away from that nation. — John T. Bennett
1:20 p.m. – GOP Sen. Rand Paul, the tea party Kentuckian, asks about whether Kerry agrees with candidate Obama or President Obama on the president’s ability to use military force. Kerry says there are times when presidents have to “do what needs to be done.” But he also said he’s a believer in Congress’s sole authority to declare war. Paul said one — perhaps the only — thing he liked about 2008 presidential candidate Obama was his declaration that a U.S. president cannot unilaterally take America to war. — John T. Bennett More
The exact level of success of North Korea’s rocket launch on Dec. 12, may not be clear (some reports have debris hurtling out of control in space) but the message is clear: DPRK is pushing the nuclear envelope. Above is the first stage of the rocket that was collected by the South Korean Navy. More pictures of the rocket after the break: More
A new paper by Bruce Bechtol examines various North Korean collapse scenarios. Planning for the Future: Conditions of Combined ROK-U.S. Military Intervention in Potential DPRK Contingencies addresses the key concerns of a joint/combined ROK-U.S. military operation in the case of a necessary contingency in North Korea. As such, it focuses on the necessary military issues, some of the likely scenarios where these issues would arise (there are simply too many to address them all in this paper), and the likely political factors in South Korea, the United States, and the international community that would be at play during this time period. China is likely to be the “elephant in the room,” though diplomacy with Beijing will be key and the Chinese are unlikely to agree to anything unless it is very clear to the world that North Korea is obviously in the throes of collapse, civil war, or complete anarchy.