National Security Brief: January 26, 2012

— The army plans on downsizing its number of combat brigades by nearly a third, cutting the totoal force by 80,000 troops while beefing up remaining brigades, in order to reduce spending.

— Republicans Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) are proposing different ways to avoid the $600 million in sequestered military spending cuts triggered by the failure of a so-called super committee to strike a budget deal on deadline in December.

Iran is ready to restart nuclear talks with world powers but won’t discontinue its ongoing enrichment of uranium, said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

— Iran is unlikely to begin construction of a nuclear weapon this year because it doesn’t have the capability to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a weapon, according to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).


— Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CBS News’s Scott Pelly that al Qaeda is “still a real threat.” Panetta said last July that defeating al Qaeda was “within reach.”

— Egyptian authorities blocked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son and several other American NGO employees from leaving Egypt “in an apparent escalation of a politically charged criminal investigation into foreign-funded groups promoting democracy.”

— With the U.N. Security Council set to vote next week on a new draft resolution about Syria’s ongoing crackdown against anti-government demonstrators, now, rebels, a priest and a Red Cross worker were killed in new violence, and government forces stormed a restive Damascus suburb.

The U.N. reports that more than 8,000 pro-Gaddafi supporters are being held by militia groups in Libya and Doctors Without Borders warns that detainees are “tortured and denied urgent medical care.”