National Security Brief: November 17, 2011

— After Syrian president Bashar al-Assad reneged on a deal with the Arab League to withdraw his army from the streets, the League offered a three day extension of the deadline and to send civilian and military monitors even as the death toll among civilian protesters rose.

— Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, offered his resignation to defuse controversy over a memo by a Pakistani-American businessman to then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen. The memo is said to have sought U.S. help in preventing a coup by Pakistan’s military leadership following the U.S. raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

— Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced he wants to send a high-level mission to Iran following last week’s release of a report concluding that Iran had possibly engaged in “ongoing” efforts to construct a nuclear weapon.

— Boeing has delivered the first shipment of 30,000-pound bunker busting bombs — nearly five tons heavier than anything the American military has — to the U.S. Air Force. The Pentagon said it doesn’t have Iran or any other country in mind as it buys the weapons.

— President Obama yesterday pledged not to allow military spending cuts to affect the U.S. military posture in the Asia-Pacific region. “Reductions in US defence spending will not — I repeat, will not — come at the expense of the Asia-Pacific,” he said.

— A Congressional advisory panel said the administration and Congress should step up monitoring of the Chinese military and associated firms to allow for better early warning in case of an attack or cyber assault.

Disarmament NGO’s blasted the U.S. for negotiating a legally binding protocol on cluster munitions — the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) — which critics say could lead to an increase in the use of cluster bombs by the 111 countries, including the U.S., who have refused to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

— As part of a piecemeal approach to President Obama’s jobs plan, Congress passed a bill designed to relieve the tax burden on employers who hire veterans, aiding the embattled demographic in finding work.