National Security Brief: February 22, 2012

— The IAEA’s visit to Iran ended in failure yesterday. The New York Times reports that “Tehran not only blocked access to a site the inspectors believe could have been used for tests on how to produce a nuclear weapon, they reported, but it also refused to agree to a process for resolving questions about other ‘possible military dimensions’ to its nuclear program.”

— A Gallup poll out this week found that 32 percent of Americans consider Iran to be the U.S.’s greatest enemy. China came in second with 23 percent saying it is the greatest enemy while North Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq round out the top five.

— An American and French journalist were killed in a mortar strike in Homs, Syria, on Wednesday morning, according to Syrian anti-government activists and a French government spokeswomen.

— A Syrian National Council official said the group is considering calling for military intervention to end the nearly year-old crisis in Syria. “We are really close to seeing this military intervention as the only solution. There are two evils, military intervention or protracted civil war,” the official said.

— A spokesman for the Obama administration said “additional measures” — likely a reference to arming the Syrian opposition — might be needed to help bolster the embattled Syrian uprising.

— Army Chief of Staff Gen. Rad Odierno said the Obama administration gave the Army permission to delay finalizing its budget-cutting troop reductions for six years.

— The U.S. and North Korea will reopen nuclear talks on Thursday, providing the first insights into whether North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, seeks to restart a deal in which Washington would provide food aid in return for Pyongyang agreeing to suspend uranium enrichment.

— The Obama administration has renewed the case for joining the international Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which failed to pass in 1999.