National Security Brief: April 13, 2012

— North Korea’s failed attempt at launching a satellite into orbit may be a cause of embarrassment for the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, who is now widely expected to move ahead with a third nuclear test as a show of strength.

— The U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany are finding themselves divided over how best to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions while defusing the possibility of military confrontation with the Islamic Republic. The New York Times reports that officials from those countries “acknowledged in recent days significant differences over what a nuclear accord should look like.”

— Syrian anti-government demonstrators faced beatings but no widesscale shelling or shooting from security forces as a ceasefire took hold and was “relatively respected” by the government, said a spokesman for international envoy Kofi Annan. The envoy announced that an advance team of a about a dozen U.N. observers is ready to enter Syria.

— A multinational team of weapons experts has secured and destroyed 5,000 LIbyan man-operated portable air defense systems (MANPADS) left after the fall of Qaddafi’s regime, but the team has been unable to rule out the possibility that a number of the weapons may have been smuggled out of Libya or acquired by terrorists.


— Pakistan’s parliament unanimously submitted new guidelines to improve strained relations with the U.S. that calls on the U.S. to suspend its C.I.A. program of unmanned drone strikes against militants on the ground that it violates Pakistani “sovereignty.”  — The intelligence chief of Egpyt’s deposed Mubarak regime, Omar Suleiman, revitalized his career by announcing a run for the presidency — apparently operated from the intelligence ministry — and collecting the necessary signatures. But lawmakers quickly drafted a law barring former regime officials from running, though it’s unlikely to be signed by the military’s transitional leaders.  — Vice-Chief of the Joint Staff Adm. James Winnefeld said this week that the military’s reconfigured posture in Asia does not solely revolve around China. “I don’t think China should view this as a threat,” he said. “We can all get along out there.”

— Adm. Bill McRaven, the head of U.S. special operations, is mapping out a potential Afghanistan war plan that would replace thousands of U.S. troops with small special operations teams paired with Afghans to help an inexperienced Afghan force face Taliban forces as U.S. troops withdraw.