– Republicans vowed to block the any nuclear weapons reduction proposal, calling it “reckless lunacy.” “[T]here are many of us that are going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that this preposterous notion does not gain any real traction,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ). Lawrence Korb and Alex Rothman outline how reducing U.S. nukes is in America’s interest.
– Iran is ready to resume nuclear talks with the U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany, according to a letter from Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator.
– The Los Angeles Times reports that “Iran on Wednesday heralded what it called a pair of significant advances in its controversial nuclear research efforts, but Western observers generally downplayed the developments as more hype than substance.”
– Syrian President Bashar al-Assad moved up a vote for a referendum on a new constitution establishing a multiparty system to February 26, an apparent signal of government flexibility, but critics dismissed the gesture as irrelevant after nearly a year long sustained and bloody crackdown by security forces.
– Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the U.S. and Afghan governments have begun secret three-way talks with the Taliban in an undisclosed location, a move that could strengthen U.S.-led efforts to convene peace talks within months.
– First Lady Michelle Obama is leading a push for all 50 states to pass their own legislation making it easier for military spouses to transfer their professional licenses and certifications from one state to another.
– The Washington Post reports that “North Korea is turning to the kinds of private business activity that it technically considers criminal, allowing commerce driven by private citizens with stashes of foreign currency.”