National Security Brief: April 11, 2012

— Syrian troops defied a U.N.-brokered cease-fire plan as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), visiting Syrian refugees near the border in Turkey, said only military force would end the conflict. “Diplomacy with (Syrian dictator Bashar) Assad has failed and it will continue to fail so long as Assad thinks he can defeat the opposition in Syria militarily,” McCain said.

— U.N. special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan urged Iran today to support the peace effort and warned Tehran against arming rebel forces, saying that further military escalation of the conflict would be “disastrous.”

— Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said yesterday that Afghanistan will need a long-term security partnership and the presence of U.S. forces beyond the end of 2014 to ensure stability and to “give the right message” to Afghan citizens and the country’s enemies.

— Afghan security forces will undergo a significant reduction from 352,000 to 230,000 personnel after the NATO mission ends in 2014, Afghanistan’s defense minister told reporters on Tuesday.

— Bo Xilai, the charismatic Chinese Communist Party chief in Chongqing, was stripped of his remaining posts and his wife was put under arrest on suspicion of murder as part of a widening scandal involving business quarrels and the alleged murder of an expatriate British businessman.

— The Pentagon plans to increase its fleet of long-haul surveillance drones by at least 45 percent, growing the fleet to 645 aircraft, over the next 10 years.

— State Department data released yesterday shows that the U.S. has hundreds more nuclear weapons deployed and aircraft capable of dropping atomic bombs than Russia. According to the data, the U.S. has 812 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers deployed. Russia possesses 494.

— The New York Times reports: North Korea said on Tuesday that it had completed preparations to launch a satellite into orbit, as South Korea and other Asian nations told their airlines and ships to change their routes to avoid the North Korean rocket.