WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said on Thursday that the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has probably used chemical weapons on a small scale in the country’s civil war, but insisted that President Barack Obama needed definitive proof before he would take action.
The disclosure created a quandary for Obama, who has set the use of chemical weapons as a “red line” that Assad must not cross, and triggered calls from some hawkish Washington lawmakers for a U.S. military response, which the president has resisted.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. intelligence agencies believe Syria’s government has likely used chemical weapons on a small scale, the White House said on Thursday, but added that President Barack Obama needed “credible and corroborated” facts before acting on that assessment.
The disclosure of the assessment, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said was made within the past 24 hours and the White House said was based in part on physiological samples, triggered immediate calls for U.S. action by members of Congress who advocate deeper U.S. involvement.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. intelligence officials are looking into the possibility that chemical weapons may have been used in Syria in a limited form, although there is no consensus yet and additional analysis is required, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
“More review is needed,” the senior U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is dispatching Army planners to Jordan as neighboring Syria’s conflict worsens, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday, but he signaled deep misgivings about direct American military intervention in the Syrian civil war.
Hagel told a Senate hearing that the United States has an obligation to think through the consequences of any U.S. military move in Syria and be honest about potential long-term commitments.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s nominee to become NATO’s supreme allied commander said on Thursday the so-called reset in U.S. ties with Russia was now on pause and predicted that Moscow would be the “primary actor of regional concern” through 2020.
Relations between the former Cold War foes, badly damaged by Russia’s 2008 war with pro-Western Georgia, had improved during Obama’s first term and Obama signed a nuclear arms treaty with then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.
SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – South Korea said on Wednesday there was a “very high” probability that North Korea, after weeks of threats of war, would test-launch a medium-range missile at any time as a show of strength.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said South Korea had asked China and Russia to intercede with the North to ease tension that has mounted since the U.N. Security Council imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea after its third nuclear arms test in February.
WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) – The Pentagon proposed a
$526.6 billion budget on Wednesday that calls for closing bases,
slashing the civilian workforce and scrapping arms programs,
holding out hope the U.S. Congress might still opt for an
alternative to even more draconian cuts already on their way.
The proposed 2014 fiscal year budget would let the U.S.
Defense Department implement new spending reductions of $150
billion over the next decade rather than forcing it to carry out
the $500 billion in automatic cuts known as sequestration that
began on March 1.
WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) – The United States is capable
of intercepting a North Korean missile, should it launch one in
the coming days, but may choose not to if the projected
trajectory shows it is not a threat, a top U.S. military
commander told Congress on Tuesday.
Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of U.S. forces in the
Pacific region, said the U.S. military believed North Korea had
moved to its east coast an unspecified number of Musudan
missiles, with a range of roughly 3,000-3,500 kilometers (about
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon unveiled a $526.6 billion budget on Wednesday that calls for base closures, program cancellations and smaller pay increases, but which is still $52 billion higher than spending caps set by law, putting the department on a path toward another year of financial uncertainty.
The Defense Department request for the 2014 fiscal year beginning on October 1 asks Congress to implement a series of politically difficult cuts, involving a new round of base closure proceedings, increased healthcare fees and slower military pay increases.
SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – South Korea has raised its surveillance of North Korea after the reclusive state moved one or more long-range missiles in readiness for a possible launch, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.
Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific region, said the U.S. military believed North Korea had moved an unspecified number of Musudan missiles to its east coast.