National Security Brief: May 23, 2012

— The P5+1 resumed negotiations with Iran in Baghdad today, a day after Tehran indicated willingness to allow IAEA inspectors into suspected nuclear sites, raising expectations that Tehran may be seeking a diplomatic solution to the standoff over its nuclear program.

— Egyptians vote for their next president today and tomorrow, front-runners include two more secular minded candidates with ties to the former regime of Hosni Mubakrak and a pair of Islamist candidates, to select Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

— Regional officials in Pakistan announced that the physician who aided the CIA in finding Osama Bin Laden was sentenced to prison for treason because of his role in the manhunt and eventual raid into Pakistani territory.

— Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI), the chair and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. should not pay exorbitant fees — up to $5,000 per truck, which McCain called “extortion” — to Pakistan to allow NATO supply lines to pass through its territory into Afghanistan.

— North Korea made vague threats of “countermeasures” as the U.S. promised sanctions should the reclusive East Asian dictatorship undertake a nuclear test, a possibility heightened by reports of images indicating more underground nuclear sites.

–The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is auditing the Pentagon’s “military information support operations” — Pentagon propaganda campaigns abroad — in light of concerns about their growing costs and questionable merit.

— Nuclear disarmament advocates on Monday voiced frustration with what they saw as a missed opportunity for NATO to use its summit in Chicago to declare it would reduce the role that nuclear weapons play in the defense of the military bloc’s membership.