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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Weekly Address: End the Sequester to Keep Growing the Economy | The White House

Weekly Address: End the Sequester to Keep Growing the Economy | The White House

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HABEL VISITS AFGHANISTAN

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Remarks by Secretary Hagel in Jalalabad, Afghanistan

MODERATOR: ... Veteran, Secretary Chuck Hagel.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: Thank you.

Colonel, thank you and thank you for your leadership.

First, let me thank each of you for your service and what you're doing here for our country and for the people of Afghanistan.

It is a, as you know, an immense responsibility for each of you to be part of something so important at an important time in the world, certainly an important time for this country, for the United States of America. And to each of you and your families, thank you for your sacrifices and your service.

It is true, I was in the United States Army in 1968 in Vietnam. I was with the 9th Infantry Division. I wasn't smart enough to be in 101st, but worked with 101st on two different occasions and have many friends who served with the Screaming Eagles for many years, some even led this much decorated and distinguished division and I always have appreciated this service that this division has given to our country.

I'm going to ask each of you if you've got any questions or more importantly, advice for me here in a minute, but let me make a couple of comments.

First, I am much honored to serve as secretary of defense. It, of course, is a personal privilege but more than that, it is a ... opportunity to serve with America's finest men and women who render as selfless service as I know. And to be part of your team is indeed a great privilege and I want you to know how proud I am to be part of your team and working with you.

And I want you to also know that I will always do my best for you, for your families, our country. I will always put our men and women in uniform first and do everything I can to ensure your safety or success and everything that you're entitled to.

These are not easy times for our country, for the world and certainly these are not easy times to be part of our armed forces. But they are times that give us each a rare opportunity to participate in something that, that doesn't come along every day.

We are seeing a world in great transition just like the transition underway here in Afghanistan. That presents great possibilities for all of us. Yes, dangers; yes, uncertainty; yes, complicated challenges, but I think the way we always look at challenges is that we see through those challenges, define the opportunity to help make a better world. And if there is one thing that defines your service, your sacrifices, it is to help make a better world.

I thank you for that and I remind you of that opportunity that we all have working together to accomplish something that not all generations have an opportunity to accomplish.

So thank you. Again, I'm very proud to be part of your team and I look forward to working with you as we go forward on all the big issues that face all of us.

Now, what do you want to talk about? What advice do you have? Who wants to start?

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, with the high unemployment rate facings our veterans of our Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operating Enduring Freedom, what is -- what are we doing to help veterans as they transition out of the military and back into the civil sector to be successful?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, I appreciate, (inaudible), your question. It is a fundamental question for each of you and your families.

There is no higher priority that I have than to assist our -- our men and women as they transition out into a different life whenever that transition comes, and that includes employment opportunities, that includes benefits, that includes all of the commitments that our nation makes to each of you when you agree to make a commitment to our country.

We have, as you know, many ongoing programs in place. We need to implement new programs, we will. I will do everything I possibly can to assure those commitments are fulfilled at every level, in every program.

In fact, when I get back next week, I'm going to be meeting with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, General Eric Shinseki, to reconnect with General Shinseki who I've known for many years, as committed and dedicated American as I know of -- you know of distinguished military career and that's one area of cooperation, working closer with the VA in assuring that some of those programs are carried forward.

We have other programs specifically focused on employment, a new G.I. bill which I hope many of you and your families are either taking advantage of some -- at some point, or will. I was a leading co-sponsor of that legislation back in 2008, which I'm very proud of. That, I think, gives our military men and women and their families for the first time ever, more options and more benefits than ever.

So many of the programs that we need to continue to work on, work through, the funding for those is critically important, and I will do everything within my power to assure that the funding is there and the commitments that we've made to you are fulfilled.

Thank you.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, how will sequestration affect military PCS movements?

SEC. HAGEL: The question is on sequestration and PCS movements, but larger questions abound on sequestration as you know. I think you all are aware of what's going on in Washington with sequestration and essentially what that means is what is happening to the Department of Defense as one of the federal agencies in Washington, we are required to take a cut in our budget. We are managing that. We are dealing with it. We will continue to manage with those realities.

Further complicating that is a -- a continuing resolution that is funding our departments, funding the government. That continuing resolution comes due March 27 so the -- the Congress is going to have to make a decision as to what happens after the 27th. Many of you have been following this. The House of Representatives passed legislation here this week.

But that being the landscape which most of you know, yes, it affects everything. It -- it affects all of our programs, but what I'm committed to do and our leaders are committed to do -- I've met with the chiefs of each service and the secretaries of each service a number of times, met with them two days ago before I left Washington -- is to assure that our men and women in uniform are not affected on any of the pay, benefits. Our readiness continues to stay as active and alert and essential as any -- at any time. And so we are adjusting in training, steaming time, flight time, areas that don't affect directly our men and women in uniform and -- and our readiness.

But it's a problem, it's serious, if -- if it continues, it -- it will make our jobs more difficult. Our jobs are more difficult now but if it continues it'll -- it'll be more and more difficult for us to do what we are required to do and that is to assure the security of America around the world.

We will manage it; we will work through it and we'll continue to work with the Congress on ways to make sure that that certainty of security is -- is there and will continue to be there.

Thank you.

Q: Sir, some of the benefits for same sex partners are already in the works. Do you plan on pushing so that the same sex partners get all the benefits as other spouses?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, the -- the quick answer to the question is yes, absolutely. I made that commitment to the Congress. I made that commitment to the president. It's the right thing to do. Every member who serves their country deserves the same benefits, that's right. It's -- it's the right thing to do.

As many of you know, before Secretary Panetta left office, he issued a statement which addresses even more of -- of those issues. We still have more to address. We will. But I'm absolutely committed to fulfill the commitments that were made by the president, the same commitments that I made to the Congress and the men and women and their families of the armed forces.

Q: Mr. Secretary, with budget cuts and the downsizing of the military, how will that change what our main focus as soldiers in the military will be when we get back stateside, Mr. Secretary?

SEC. HAGEL: Well a general question about, with the sequestration and the budget limitations how it would affect our focus on our military men and women as they transition back to the United States.

As I said earlier, if the sequestration continues and we see this for a long period of time, it is going to affect our ability to have flexibility and certainty in assignments and other areas that will affect some of our people.

So, I think in the meantime, we must continue to work with the Congress and work with our people and -- and manage the realities that we have in front of us to assure the readiness and the capabilities of our -- of our forces.

I'll take one more.

Q: Mr. Secretary, I just had one question. How is this about -- how is this -- everything going on in Congress right now -- going to affect us that are about to retire?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, I think the retirement benefits and all the commitments that have been made to all of you will continue to be assured and we will protect those -- those -- those benefits. And I have every confidence that -- that Congress has every intention in continuing to work with us on assuring that all of our retirement benefits and other benefits continue to be funded and the commitments fulfilled.

Again, thank you very, very much for your service to our country. Give my regards to your families. I have some appreciation for what your families go through. I think the families are always in a position where it's, you know, almost every case most difficult for them, not that it's easy for you.

But the -- the families have to always kind of be behind and worry and deal with the day to day rigors of -- of in many cases, a one parent families and other responsibilities while you're doing your job for our country. And I want you to know as secretary of defense, I have some appreciation of that, I recognize that and we very much appreciate that.

Thank you very much. Take care of yourselves.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

RECENT U.S. NAVY PHOTOS



 
 
  FROM: U.S. NAVY

U.S. Navy Sailors transit to a rendezvous point with the Belizean Defense Force to continue joint river operations during Southern Partnership Station 2013 in 4th Fleet’s area of responsibility, Feb. 25. Southern Partnership Station is an annual deployment that exchanges training and expertise between U.S. military and civilian agencies with their counterparts in Central and South America and the Caribbean. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Hyatt/Released




Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) approaches USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201) in preparation for Eisenhower’s first replenishment-at-sea during her 2013 deployment, March 3. Eisenhower departed Naval Station Norfolk on a regularly-scheduled deployment in support of Maritime Security Operations and Theater Security Cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Rob Rupp/Released)

 

DOE REACHES AGREEMENT WITH TECHNICAL COLLEGE SYSTEM OVER ACCESSIBILITY OF WEBSITES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Civil Rights Agreement Reached with South Carolina Technical College System on Accessibility of Websites to People with Disabilities
March 8, 2013


The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the South Carolina Technical College System (SCTCS), the state's largest higher education system, that will ensure that the websites of SCTCS and its 16-member colleges are accessible to persons with disabilities.

Colleges and universities increasingly provide information to employees, applicants, students and others through their websites. As part of a proactive compliance review, OCR assessed the accessibility of websites operated by SCTCS and two of its colleges to people with visual disabilities. OCR found that the sites were not readily accessible to persons who are blind, have low vision, or have other print-related disabilities. The office determined that the sites were not in compliance with two federal laws enforced by the Department of Education -- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In response to this finding, SCTCS and its governing board, the State Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education (SBTCE), entered into a voluntary resolution agreement to ensure that all content on the websites will be accessible to students with visual and other print-related disabilities.

Under the terms of the agreement, SCTCS and its board will:
Develop a resource guide that provides information about web accessibility requirements;
Direct that the SCTCS website and the websites of all the member colleges be accessible to students with disabilities; and
Annually review the system’s and colleges’ websites and monitor steps taken to correct any accessibility problems identified.

"All students with disabilities, including those who are blind, should have full access to the information on a school's websites," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter. "Schools today rely on websites to register students, distribute course materials, collect homework, and administer quizzes. Students with disabilities cannot be denied the same opportunity to access these services on the web 24/7 from anywhere. As a result of this agreement, SCTCS will now ensure that the system's website and those of the member colleges will be accessible to all students, regardless of their disability."

Galanter praised the response of SCTCS and SBTCE to OCR's findings, saying, "I appreciate the efforts by the South Carolina Technical College System and its governing board to work cooperatively with OCR to address web accessibility for persons requiring assistive technology to access the Internet."

OCR will closely monitor SCTCS's implementation of the agreement. OCR will not stop monitoring the case until OCR determines that SCTCS has fulfilled the terms of the agreement and is in compliance with the provisions of Section 504 and Title II that were at issue in this review.

STATE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT ON SIXTH ANIVERSARY OF THE DISAPPEARANCE OF U.S. CITIZEN ROBERT LEVINSON

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Sixth Anniversary of the Disappearance of Robert Levinson
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 8, 2013

Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of U.S. citizen Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who went missing in Iran on March 9, 2007.

A husband and father to seven children, Mr. Levinson has missed birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and other important milestones since his disappearance six years ago from Iran’s Kish Island. He is also the grandfather of two, the second of which was born in his absence.

The United States continues to welcome the assistance of our international partners in this investigation and calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to uphold its offer to help find

Mr. Levinson and return him safely to his family.

I met with Mr. Levinson’s wife and son today to reiterate that the U.S. Government remains committed to locating Mr. Levinson and reuniting him safely with his family.

Last year the FBI announced a $1 million reward for information on Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts that could lead to his safe return. Anyone who may have information about this

case is asked to contact the FBI.

WAR OF THE CYBER WORLDS

U.S. sailors assigned to Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command man their stations at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., Aug. 4, 2010. NCDOC sailors monitor, analyze, detect and respond to unauthorized activity within U.S. Navy information systems and computer networks. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua J. Wahl

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Cyber Command, DOD Work to Understand Cyber Battlespace
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2013 - Since the Defense Department officially made cyberspace a new domain of warfare in 2011, experts in the public and private sectors have been working to make that inherently collaborative, adaptable environment a suitable place for military command and control.

In July of that year, the first initiative of the first DOD Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace called for treating cyberspace as an operational domain -- no different from air, land, sea or space -- to organize, train and equip so the department could take full advantage of cyber potential.

Cyberspace is defined as a collection of computer networks that use a variety of wired and wireless connections, a multitude of protocols, and devices ranging from supercomputers to laptops to embedded computer systems designed for specific control functions in larger systems.

At the 4th Annual Cyber Security Conference held here Feb. 22, Air Force Maj. Gen. Brett T. Williams, director of operations at U.S. Cyber Command, described how Cybercom is using the Internet and other aspects of the cyber environment to execute its mission.

"The challenge we have is that the Internet was never designed for military command and control, ... yet we've adapted it to do that," he said.

In the process, the general added, officials have tried to define the Cybercom mission more clearly over the last few months.

As part of DOD, Williams said, part of Cybercom's mission is to help in defending the homeland, especially against cyberattacks and other activities in cyberspace that could affect national security.

"In that role, like the rest of the Department of Defense, we function as a supporting command to the national command authority at the Department of Homeland Security," he added.

Cybercom's second responsibility is to secure, operate and defend what is now defined as the Department of Defense information networks, or DODIN, formerly called the Global Information Grid, the general said. DODIN is a globally interconnected end-to-end set of information capabilities for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating and managing information on demand to warfighters, policymakers and support personnel.

The third mission area, he said, is to support regional combatant commanders such as those at U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command, and functional combatant commanders such as those at U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

Quantifying mission requirements is another effort under way at Cybercom, the general said.

"What we're working through right now is taking forces dedicated to the cyber mission and fundamentally defining a unit of action or unit of employment to do our mission, then realigning our forces," Williams said. "You need to be able to say, 'What kind of cyber units do I need and how many do I need?' If you can't do that, then you really can't [plan] and you can't understand where you're taking risk."

For a military force, according to the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, a line of operation is a line that defines the orientation of a force in time and space in relation to the adversary, and links the force with its base of operations and objectives. Major combat operations typically are designed using lines of operation.

For the cyber domain, Cybercom has three lines of operation -- DOD network operations, defensive cyber operations and offensive cyber operations.

For network operations "we provision, we operate, we maintain the networks [and] we do static defense," Williams said -- things such as firewalls, antivirus applications and the host-based security system called HBSS, the DOD off-the-shelf commercial suite of software applications used to monitor, detect and counter attacks against DOD computer networks and systems.

"No matter how good we get at [defending the network], it's not going to be sufficient," the general said, "because if we harden the network such that nobody gets in, then we can't get out, and we lose our ability to do the most important thing we need to do in cyber, which is, I would argue, to command and control our forces."

The second line of operation involves defending cyber operations. What Cybercom calls DCO has two aspects, Williams said.

First, he explained, people must be able to maneuver in Cybercom's friendly networks and hunt for and kill things that get through the static defenses. Cybercom also needs a "red team" capability to simulate the opposition for training purposes, and it needs people who can assess the networks for vulnerabilities and advise the network owners, or commanders, where it makes sense to take risk based on their operational missions.

"The other part of the DCO is that we need capability to go outside our own networks" and stop malware and other attacks before they reach the network, the general said.

"Having the capability to operate outside our own networks ... subject to all the laws of war, all the rules of engagement, all [DOD] polices ... means being able to have that spectrum of options [available] for the commanders," he added.

The third line of operation is offensive cyber operations, or OCO, Williams said. "That's the ability to deliver a variety of effects outside our own networks to satisfy national security requirements," he explained.

Given these lines of operation, Williams said, commanding and controlling forces in cyberspace requires technologies with different capabilities than are fully available today.

"What we really need is all the data to understand what goes on in cyberspace. ... Every time something plugs in, it's got to identify itself and populate a database with all the knowable parameters," he said.

The data has to go from unclassified to top secret and be accessible to anyone with appropriate clearances, he added, and how the data is presented should be cost-effectively customizable at any level.

"The second thing we need is to be able to move that data around," Williams said. "We've got to get away from these [tens of thousands] of networks that we rely on in the department to do what we have to do."

Some of these critical cyberspace requirements will be met by the Joint Information Environment, the general said. JIE is a single, joint, secure, reliable and agile command, control, communications and computing enterprise information environment to which DOD is transitioning in a first-phase implementation that spans fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

The JIE will combine DOD's many networks into a common and shared global network. It will provide email, Internet access, common software applications and cloud computing. Main objectives are to increase operational efficiency, enhance network security and save money by reducing infrastructure and staffing.

According to the Defense Information Systems Agency, the JIE will encompass all DOD networks and will enhance network security by:

-- Using a single-security architecture;

-- Minimizing network hardware, software and staffing;

-- Giving DOD users access to the network from anywhere in the world;

-- Focusing on protecting data; and

-- Improving DOD's ability to share information among the services and with government agencies and industry partners.

Williams said operating in cyberspace also calls for the kind of mission-critical command-and-control capability provided to air operations by the Theater Battle Management Core System, a set of software applications that allows automated management of air battle planning and intelligence operations. The system operates at the force level and the unit level.

"We need that same type of thing to do our planning for cyberspace," the general said, adding that the closest thing he's seen to a workable system for cyberspace is called Plan X, an effort announced in May by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Plan X, according to DARPA's website, will try to create revolutionary technologies for understanding, planning and managing DOD cyber missions in real-time, large-scale and dynamic network environments.

More than 350 software engineers, cyber researchers and human-machine interface experts attended the initial DARPA workshop.

"The program covers largely uncharted territory as we attempt to formalize cyber mission command and control for the DOD," DARPA program manager Dan Roelker said in a recent statement.

Plan X, Williams said, "is being worked by a group of people who in my view are technology people who have a better understanding of the operational requirement than most anybody else I've seen. They've taken it from the PowerPoint level to some things where you can see how this would work."

Cybercom needs such a knowledge-management tool, the general said, "that allows us to plan and execute in an intuitive way and that doesn't require everyone who operates in cyber to have a degree in electrical engineering or computer science. We just can't train everybody to do that."

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SAYS BIN LADEN ASSOCIATE ARRESTED FOR CONSPIRING TO MURDER AMERICANS


FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, Associate of Usama Bin Laden, Arrested for Conspiring to Kill Americans

"Abu Ghayth" Allegedly Appeared with Usama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri After September 11, 2001, Threatening Additional Attacks Against the United States

Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, aka "Suleiman Abu Gayth", a former associate of Usama Bin Laden, has been arrested and charged in an indictment unsealed today in New York City with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, announced Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office George Venizelos, and the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (NYPD) Raymond W. Kelly. Abu Ghayth is expected to be presented and arraigned tomorrow, March 8, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.


"No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice," said Attorney General Holder. "To violent extremists who threaten the American people and seek to undermine our way of life, this arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law."


"The arrest of Abu Ghayth is an important milestone in our ongoing counterterrorism efforts. I applaud the many agents, analysts and prosecutors responsible for bringing about this significant case and arrest," said Assistant Attorney General Monaco.


"It has been 13 years since Abu Ghayth allegedly worked alongside Usama Bin Laden in his campaign of terror, and 13 years since he allegedly took to the public airwaves, exhorting others to embrace al Qaeda’s cause and warning of more terrorist attacks like the mass murder of 9/11," said U.S. Attorney Bharara. "The memory of those attacks is indelibly etched on the American psyche, and today’s action is the latest example of our commitment to capturing and punishing enemies of the United States, no matter how long it takes."


"Sulaiman Abu Ghayth held a key position in al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos. "He used his position to persuade others to swear loyalty to al Qaeda’s murderous cause. He used his position to threaten the United States and incite its enemies. His apprehension is another important step in the campaign to limit the reach of al Qaeda and enhance our national and international security."

"While New York City must remain vigilant to continued terrorist threats against it, Abu Ghayth's apprehension and prosecution promises to close another chapter in al Qaeda's notoriously violent history of killing Americans," said NYPD Commissioner Kelly. "This case also represents another success in the ongoing partnership between Federal agents and NYPD detectives through the JTTF."

As alleged in the superseding indictment that has been filed against Abu Ghayth in federal court:

Since around 1989, al Qaeda has been an international terrorist organization, dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence. Usama Bin Laden served as the leader or "emir" of al Qaeda until his death on or about May 2, 2011. Members of al Qaeda typically have pledged an oath of allegiance, called bayat, to Bin Laden and to al Qaeda.

The core purpose of al Qaeda, as stated by Bin Laden and other leaders, is to support violent attacks against property and nationals, both military and civilian, of the United States and other countries. Between 1989 and 2001, al Qaeda established training camps, guest houses, and business operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries for the purpose of training and supporting its agenda of violence and murder. Members and associates of al Qaeda have executed a number of terrorist attacks, all in furtherance of the organization’s stated conspiracy to kill Americans, including the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, which killed approximately 2,976 people.

From at least May 2001 up to around 2002, Abu Ghayth served alongside Usama Bin Laden, appearing with Bin Laden and his then-deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, speaking on behalf of the terrorist organization and in support of its mission, and warning that attacks similar to those of September 11, 2001 would continue.

In particular, around May 2001, Abu Ghayth urged individuals at a guest house in Kandahar, Afghanistan, to swear bayat to Bin Laden. On the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the United States, Bin Laden summoned Abu Gayth and asked for his assistance and he agreed to provide it. On the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, Abu Ghayth, appeared with Bin Laden and Zawahiri, and spoke on behalf of al Qaeda, warning the United States and its allies that "[a] great army is gathering against you" and called upon "the nation of Islam" to do battle against "the Jews, the Christians and the Americans." Also, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Abu Ghayth delivered a speech in which he addressed the then-U.S. Secretary of State and warned that "the storms shall not stop, especially the Airplanes Storm," and advised Muslims, children, and opponents of the United States "not to board any aircraft and not to live in high rises."

Abu Gayth arranged to be, and was, successfully smuggled from Afghanistan into Iran in 2002.

The indictment charges Abu Ghayth with participating in a conspiracy to kill United States nationals. The offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of life. No trial date has yet been set in the case.

The charges and arrest of Abu Ghayth are the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents and detectives of the FBI and the New York City Police Department – the United States Marshals Service and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Department of State also provided assistance.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys John P. Cronan and Michael Ferrara of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, with assistance from Trial Attorney Jolie Zimmerman of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

GENERAL HAM DISCUSSED CHALLENGES FOR U.S. AFRICA COMMAND


FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Africom Commander Outlines Diverse Challenges Ahead
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, March 7, 2013 - Somalia and Mali represent different stages of the challenges for U.S. Africa Command, Army Gen. Carter F. Ham told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

Ham, who will step down as Africom commander next month, said the five-year-old command has increased operational capabilities and capacities and has worked to build and focus security cooperation on the continent.

"Our approach seeks to address the near-term threats to our national security while simultaneously building partnerships and fostering regional cooperation which contribute to achieving longer-term U.S. objectives in Africa," he said.

Africa has been a mixed bag in recent years, with positive steps in Somalia and security challenges in Mali.

Along with allies in East Africa, Africom developed a strategy that has seriously weakened the terror group al-Shabaab, Ham said. "Somalia still faces significant political, economic and security challenges, but the Somali people now have something they haven't had for a very long time: hope for a better future," he added. "And I'm proud that we've played a role in that."

In Central Africa, African troops, advised and assisted by U.S. Army Special Forces personnel, have achieved some significant tactical gains against the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony. "Today, we are seeing increased levels of LRA defections, fewer LRA attacks, and enhanced cooperation between the military forces in the region," the general told the Senate panel.

Africom also is working with nations and regional groups in the Gulf of Guinea to boost cooperation against pirates, smuggling and illegal trafficking, Ham said.

Such security initiatives illustrate what can be achieved through an Africa-led endeavor to which America provides support and logistical capabilities, he said, and this same approach could be key to establishing peace and stability in Mali. The command has supported French and African allies' efforts in northern Mali and is sharing intelligence and providing some transportation to forces opposing al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb, he said.

But while the increasing willingness of many African partners to actively address shared threats is encouraging, the general told the panel, other trends in the region are deeply concerning. Terror groups in West and North Africa are increasingly working together, he noted.

"The loss of four Americans in Libya and three more in Algeria underscores the threat presented by this growing network," Ham said.

The terror groups individually pose threats to the region, he said, but their increasing collaboration increases the danger they present collectively.

"I'm convinced that if left unchecked," Ham added, "this network will develop into one that poses a greater and more imminent threat to U.S. interests."

Stopping the spread of these groups is the command's top priority, the general said. "At the same time, we're tasked to focus on prevention through a very active partnership strategy," he said. "It remains clear that Africans must solve Africa's problems."

And it is in this area that fiscal challenges will hurt the most, Ham said.

"I'm concerned about the impacts resulting from the combined effects of sequestration and a continuing resolution," the general told the senators. "We've already had to make difficult decisions based on the availability of funds, such as reducing reconnaissance flights."

Budget reductions will cut theater security cooperation engagements and will reduce important joint and combined exercises, Ham said. The cuts, possible cuts and threatened cuts mean uncertainty in both the military ranks and in Africom's civilian workforce, he added.

"They are not sure what to expect of their government," Ham said.

Civilian employees face furloughs, he noted, and military personnel and their families face the question of whether Congress will sustain programs.

"I don't think we yet understand what effect this uncertainty may have in the recruiting and retention of our civilian workforce, and perhaps even more importantly, on the recruiting and retention of what I think is the crown jewel in all of this, and that's the sustainment of the incredibly talented all-volunteer force we have," he said. "I think there are a lot more unknowns right now than knowns."

The command is looking at new ways to address the many challenges in Africa, Ham said. "The Army's regionally aligned force, Navy's Africa Partnership Station, and the Air Force counterpart, Africa Partnership Flight, are programs the services have purposely designed to help us achieve our objectives," he said. "We look forward to the capabilities of the Marine Corps' new Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, which will bring improvements in our crisis-response capabilities."

Ham commended Africom's service members and civilians as he prepares to turn over the command to Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez.

ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACES CONTINUES

Photo Credit:  U.S. Navy.
FROM: U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
HHS and states move forward to offer quality, affordable health coverage

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that more states are moving forward to implement the health care law and establishing Health Insurance Marketplaces. HHS conditionally approved Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and West Virginia to operate State Partnership Marketplaces, which will be ready for open enrollment in October 2013.

"HHS will continue to work collaboratively with all states to build the Marketplace," Secretary Sebelius said. "Working together, we will be ready in seven months when consumers will be able to use the new marketplace to easily purchase quality, affordable health insurance plans."

Today’s conditional approvals bring the total number of states that have been conditionally approved to partially or fully run their Marketplace to 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, several other states have suggested their own approaches to contributing toward plan management in their Marketplace in 2014. HHS will continue to provide all states with the flexibility, resources, and time needed to support the establishment of the new health insurance marketplace.

Consumers in every state will soon be able to buy insurance from qualified health plans directly through a Marketplace and may be eligible for premium tax credits and cost sharing assistance to help lower their costs. These health plans will ensure consumers have the same kinds of valuable insurance choices as members of Congress, and cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

 

A ROBOT ICE-CREVASS HUNTER NAMED YETI

James Lever, U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

FROM: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, YETI ANTARTIC ROBOT, ICE-COVERED CREVASSES, GREENLAND
In Greenland and Antarctic Tests, Yeti Helps Conquer Some "Abominable" Polar Hazards

A century after Western explorers first crossed the dangerous landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic, researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) have successfully deployed a self-guided robot that uses ground-penetrating radar to map deadly crevasses hidden in ice-covered terrains.

Deployment of the robot--dubbed Yeti--could make Arctic and Antarctic explorations safer by revealing unseen fissures buried beneath ice and snow that could potentially claim human lives and expensive equipment.

Researchers say Yeti opens the door to making polar travel safer for crews that supply remote scientific research stations. Attempts have been made by researchers in the polar regions to use robots for tasks such as searching for meteorites in Antarctica. However, researchers who have worked with Yeti say it is probably the first robot to successfully deploy in the field that is able to identify hazards lurking under the thin cover of snow.

These findings are based on deployments of Yeti in Greenland's Inland Traverse, an over-ice supply train from Thule in the north of Greenland to NSF's Summit Station on the ice cap, and in NSF's South Pole Traverse, a 1,031-mile, over-ice trek from McMurdo Station in Antarctica to the South Pole.

A team of researchers from the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, along with a student at Stanford University's neuroscience program, recently published their findings in the Journal of Field Robotics.

"Polar exploration is not unlike space missions; we put people into the field where it is expensive and it is dangerous to do science," said CRREL's James Lever.

Using Yeti--and potential follow-on devices that Lever expects may be developed in the future by improving on the Yeti template--has value not only in reducing some of the danger to human beings working in polar environments. Deploying Yeti and machines like it also plays to the strength of robots, which are well suited for learning and performing repetitive tasks more efficiently than humans.

Lever added that robots like Yeti not only improve safety; they also have the potential to reduce the costs of logistical support of science in the remote polar regions and extend the capabilities of researchers.

Yeti was developed with funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Students of Lever and Laura Ray, at Dartmouth, also a principal investigator on the Yeti project and a co-author of the paper, designed and created a predecessor to Yeti--called Cool Robot-- that was funded by NSF's Division of Polar Programs to
conduct work in Antartica.

Under a separate NSF grant, researchers plan to deploy Cool Robot this summer to circumnavigate NSF's Summit Station on the Greenland ice sheet, taking atmospheric samples as it goes. The solar-powered, four-wheel-drive Cool Robot led to Yeti's success, while helping the researchers meet NSF's goal of integrating research and education.

"Our focus with Yeti is on improving operational efficiency," Lever said. "But more generally, robotics has the potential to produce more science with more spatial and temporal coverage for less money. We're not gong to replace the scientists. But what we can do is extend their reach and add to the science mission."

Yeti is an 81-kilogram (180-pound) battery powered, four-wheel drive vehicle, about a meter across, that is capable of operating in temperatures as low as -30 Celsius (-20 Fahrenheit). Yeti uses Global Positioning System coordinates to navigate and to plot the position of under-ice hazards.

That work--and the accompanying risks--in the past has fallen exclusively to human crews using ground-penetrating radar to map the under-ice features.

Crevasses often can span widths of 9 meters (30 feet) or more and reach depths of up to 60 meters (200 feet). Snow often accumulates in such a way that it forms unstable bridges over the crevasse, obscuring them from view.

Prior to the development of Yeti, a vehicle pushing a GPR unit would move ahead of a traverse to attempt to detect crevasses. Although the radar was pushed ahead of the vehicle, giving some margin of advanced warning and safety, the system is none-the-less dangerous and stressful for the crews, especially when traversing long distances.

In addition to having the potential to greatly reduce the danger to humans, the Yeti project also has helped advance research into how robots learn, as the research team uses the data gathered by Yeti during hundreds of crevasse encounters to refine algorithms that will allow machines in future to automatically map and avoid crevasses on their own.

Yeti has also proven itself adept at tasks that were not originally envisioned for it.

During the 2012-13 Antarctic research season, Yeti was used to map ice caves on the slopes of Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost active volcano.

The ice caves are attracting increasingly more scientific attention. Volcanologists are interested in the volcano's chemical outgassing through fissures on its flanks, and biologists are interested in what sort of microbial life might exist in these discrete environments, which are much warmer and far more humid than the frigid, wind-sculpted surface.

In a deployment that coincided with the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first explorers at the geographic South Pole in the 2011-2012 research season, Yeti repeatedly and uniformly executed closely spaced survey grids to find known, but inaccurately mapped, buried hazards.

The robot mapped out the long-abandoned original South Pole research station, built in the late 1950s and subsequently buried under the Antarctic ice sheet by years of snowfall and drift. A previous, less refined survey of the site by a human crew had only generally identified the outline of the major buildings. The Yeti-based survey generated a map detailed enough to allow crews to directly access the corners of structures near the ice surface in order to safely demolish them.

-NSF-

Afghan air force conducts air assault with Afghan special ops

Afghan air force conducts air assault with Afghan special ops

THE MISSILE AND SPACE INTELLIGENCE CENTER

GTR-18 surface-to-air missile simulators are fired at incoming aircraft during nighttime warfare training at the Yodaville close air support range near Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., April 11, 2011. The Defense Intelligence Agency's Missile and Space Intelligence Center helps to protect U.S. forces from similar real weapons. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Benjamin R. Reynolds
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Missile, Space Intelligence Center Saves Warfighter Lives
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2013 - Engineers, scientists and analysts of the Defense Intelligence Agency's Missile and Space Intelligence Center provide high-confidence assessments of foreign missile and space systems and other critical intelligence products that help to keep warfighters from harm

Spread out over some of the 38,000 acres of the Army's Redstone Arsenal in the Appalachian highlands of northern Alabama are the laboratories, high-performance computing operations, test areas and hardware storage spaces that make up MSIC's vast engineering complex.

"The work itself is pretty detailed and geeky," MSIC Director Pamela McCue explained during an interview with American Forces Press Service. "We're a bunch of engineers and scientists, and by nature we love to figure out how things work."

McCue, an electrical engineer, said the work involves looking at all sources of intelligence and figuring out the characteristics, performance and operations of threat weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank guided missiles, ground-based anti-satellite systems and short-range ballistic missiles.

Service members who conduct operations anywhere in the world are likely to encounter a variety of weapons, McCue said.

"Our job is to understand the threat weapons and push intelligence to the military so they will be prepared," she added. "Hopefully, we can do it so our service [members] won't even encounter the threat weapons, but if they do, we want them always to come out on top."

MSIC engineers and scientists focus on how a weapon works, how well it works, and how it's vulnerable or how it can be defeated, she said. Air and missile defense is a key mission.

"These are surface-to-air missiles primarily that fire at our aircraft, ... so anywhere that we have an air operation going, we are likely to face these kinds of systems," McCue noted.

The missiles range from air defense systems that a person can carry and fire from the shoulder to long-range air defense systems that can engage targets over hundreds of miles. The director said millions of "man-portable" systems are in use around the world.

With the knowledge its scientists and engineers gain, MSIC works with those in the services who design air survivability equipment, the director said, "so if you're carrying that on an aircraft, it will detect that a missile has been launched against it, and it will take action so the missile, hopefully, will not hit the aircraft.

"It can do that either with some kind of countermeasure," she continued, "usually a laser-based countermeasure, or perhaps even [by] dropping flares, which are electro-optical infrared devices [designed to] distract the missile and pull it off course. These are techniques that we can equip our military aircraft with -- and especially our helicopters, which have to operate in harm's way -- so even if they are engaged, they won't be hit."

Another important area for MSIC includes ground-based weapons that fire missiles or directed energy at platforms in space. These include anti-satellite missiles and directed-energy weapons.

"We in the United States haven't had a lot of [directed-energy weapons] programs for a while, [but] others around the world are still developing directed-energy weapons -- Russia and China are the two big ones," she said.

Very-high-energy weapons include laser systems, she added, and such weapons either would damage sensors on airplanes or satellites, or as technology evolves, physically destroy a platform in air or space.

The other important mission area for MSIC involves short-range ballistic missiles -- those that can engage targets from tens of miles out to 600 miles out.

"These systems are important because they're the weapon of choice for a lot of [nations] to reach beyond their borders, ... and they can be fitted to carry weapons of mass destruction, so they're a big concern for us and our allies," McCue said. "They're certainly a big player in the Middle East and North Korea."

Today, MSIC helps to defend against ballistic missiles on the same ground where, in 1950, German rocket developer Wernher von Braun and his team of top rocket scientists began working with the Army to develop the Jupiter ballistic missile and others.

The work was done as part of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, which von Braun headed, and McCue said the organization had a small intelligence cell that was "taking a look at what was going on around the world in similar developments."

MISC began then as an Army research and development center, the director added, and in the 1990s, it became part of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

"We've had some of our missions since the very first days, like looking at those threat missile developments to compare them to what we were doing on this side," McCue said. "We picked up additional missions as weapons evolved and new things came online, like the ground-based anti-satellite mission."

In the beginning, the weapons were pretty basic, she said. "For instance, a surface-to-air missile would be capable of tracking a single aircraft at a time," she explained. "It would have a very tightly controlled process for controlling the missile to the target, and it would be very straightforward."

Now, the director said, there's a lot more flexibility.

"On the surface-to-air missile side, you have systems that can track many targets at one time and send many missiles to different targets at the same time," she added, and on the ballistic-missile side, a simple ballistic trajectory may be replaced by extreme maneuvers and countermeasures.

"A lot more complexity in the weapons has come from having more capability, more technology and more computers," the director observed.

Computers have boosted capability on the analysis side, McCue said. "It makes the weapon systems harder to figure out," she said, "but it makes our analysis a little easier and more capable."

The center also has put more emphasis on command and control, as the processes and communications surrounding the launch of a rocket or missile become more computer-driven, she said.

MSIC now has fewer people than it did during the Cold War. But amid the geopolitical instability of much of the world today, MSIC's scientists, engineers and analysts have many more kinds of weapons to deal with. Computer power helps keep the pace, along with a good priority system, McCue said.

"We don't have more people, but we do what I like to call 'risk management,'" the director said. "Every weapon system out there in the world doesn't have an equally high probability of being in an engagement at any given time, so we're constantly assessing priorities and putting the resources we have on the most important weapons, knowing that we can't cover everything."

Over time, major developments in technology could drive changes in MSIC's work, but McCue said she believes being an engineering organization gives MSIC an advantage.

"We tend to keep up with technology, because we use it in our analysis techniques. The folks in the ... labs we work with and the national labs across the country also keep up with technologies, and we're well-linked there," she said. "So ... we have the right mindset, and we are following the technology as a matter of course. The trick is anticipating how that might play into threat weapons."

Technologically, she added, one game-changer could involve people who do unexpected things with weapons, driven by conflicts such as the unrest in Syria or North Korea's use of missiles.

Along with keeping up with evolving technology, working with partners is an important aspect of the work at MSIC these days.

"We are very integrated into the whole intelligence system," the director said, adding that MSIC also works closely with the services and with U.S. allies and partners.

Each service has aircraft they have to fly, she added, "so they have to worry about surface-to-air missiles, [and] they're all what we call customers of ours. We make sure we understand what they need [and] we understand what kind of intelligence they need to put the right things on their military systems, ... and we push intelligence to them in the right form."

Where international partners are concerned, McCue said, "with virtually every partner that the United States has, we work with our counterparts in those countries."

The budget problems plaguing the nation and the Defense Department present a challenge that McCue said the center's scientists and engineers will have to tackle.

"In my observation over the years," she said, "there's a lot of innovation that can come from tight times -- when you're really focused on getting the job done and you've got to figure out some way to do it. We're adaptive and we're flexible, and we're going to keep putting those priorities up there and making sure we get the important things done."

LOS ALAMOS ANNOUNCES NEW REPACKAGING FACILITY GOES ONLINE TO PROCESS NUCLEAR WASTE

A view of the new box line facility where transuranic waste will be repackaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory
FROM: LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY
Los Alamos National Laboratory opens new waste repackaging facility
Box line facility is largest of its kind ever built

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., March 7, 2013—Los Alamos National Laboratory has brought a third waste repackaging facility online to increase its capability to process nuclear waste for permanent disposal.

The "375 box line facility" enables Los Alamos to repackage transuranic (TRU) waste stored in large boxes.

Built inside a dome once used to house containers of waste at the Laboratory, the facility is the largest Perma-Con© structure ever constructed. A Perma-Con© is a modular structure typically used for radiological or hazardous containment. Contaminated items such as equipment and protective clothing, used during past operations at Los Alamos, are removed from their containers inside the structure and then are repackaged for shipment to licensed, permanent disposal facilities.

The record-setting structure is 110 feet long by 48 feet wide.

"We needed to build a structure big enough to accommodate these waste boxes, some of which are 40 feet long," said Jeff Mousseau, associate director of environmental programs at LANL. "These are the largest, most contaminated boxes of waste at Los Alamos, and this facility will give us the capability to repackage them safely."

The Perma-Con© structure was provided by Radiation Protection Systems, Inc.

"The 375 box line facility is the largest, most technically challenging and complex containment facility RPS has produced to date," said Bill Rambow, Radiation Protection Systems CEO. "The RPS team is very proud to have contributed to the LANL TRU waste disposal effort."

The facility is part of an effort to accelerate removal of 3,706 cubic meters of TRU waste currently stored above ground at Los Alamos. As part of an agreement with the State of New Mexico, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Laboratory have made removing this waste one of their top environmental priorities. In the first year of the accelerated work, Los Alamos shattered its former nuclear waste shipping records, with more than 230 waste shipments resulting in the disposition of 920 cubic meters of TRU waste.

"This new repackaging facility will allow us to dispose of even greater volumes of TRU waste during the coming months," said Pete Maggiore, assistant manager for environmental operations at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office.

Photograph cutlines:

A view of the new box line facility where transuranic waste will be repackaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

A worker transports the first box of waste to be repackaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s newest box line facility.

What is transuranic, or TRU, waste?

TRU waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive material, mostly plutonium. Transuranic elements such as plutonium have an atomic number greater than uranium, so they are labeled transuranic, for "beyond uranium" on the periodic table of elements.

About 90 percent of the current TRU waste inventory is a result of decades of nuclear research and weapons production at the Laboratory and is often referred to as "legacy" waste.

About Perma-Con© Modular Containment Structures The Perma-Con© structure built to process TRU waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory was provided by Radiation Protection Systems, Inc. A description of the modular enclosures, as well as company contact information, is provided here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

U.S. SANCTIONS INDIVIDUALS FOR AIDING N. KOREAN WMD PROGRAMS

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
United States Sanctions Individuals Linked To North Korean Weapons Of Mass Destruction Programs
Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
March 8, 2013

 

The United States welcomes the unanimous passage today of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2094. North Korea's nuclear and missile proliferation activities violate the UN Security Council sanctions regime comprised of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009) and 2087 (2013), destabilize the region, and undermine the global nonproliferation regime. The international community has condemned North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation activity and its continued efforts to advance its nuclear and missile programs, including its announced February 12 nuclear test and its April and December 2012 launches using ballistic missile technology. These provocative acts continue to threaten international peace and security and will only result in North Korea becoming further isolated from the international community.

On Thursday, March 7, 2013 the U.S. Department of the Treasury implemented the asset freeze provisions of UNSCR 2094 (2013) by designating Mun Cho’ng-Ch’o’l, a Tanchon Commercial Bank (TCB) representative who served in Beijing, China; and Yo’n Cho’ng-Nam and Ko Ch’o’l-Chae, both based in Dalian, China, and representatives of Korea Mining Development Corporation (KOMID), pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets proliferators of WMD and their supporters. The Second Academy of Natural Sciences and Korea Complex Equipment Import Corporation, listed in UNSCR 2094 today, were previously designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 in August 2010 and October 2005 respectively.

"These individuals are important actors within North Korea’s proliferation network who have been working to gain access to international markets," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. "We will continue to work with our partners around the world to expose these operations and hold North Korea accountable for its provocative and destabilizing acts."

TCB was identified in the annex of E.O. 13382 in June 2005 because it acts as the financial arm of KOMID, Pyongyang’s premier arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons. KOMID was also listed in the annex to E.O. 13382 in June 2005 for its role in North Korea’s proliferation of WMD.

KOMID has offices in multiple countries around the world and facilitates weapons sales for the North Korean government. TCB plays a role in financing KOMID’s sales of ballistic missiles and has also been involved in ballistic missile transactions from KOMID to Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), the U.S. and UN-sanctioned Iranian organization responsible for developing liquid-fueled ballistic missiles. In addition to their listings under E.O. 13382, both TCB and KOMID were designated by the UNSCR 1718 Committee in April 2009.

Today’s designations under E.O. 13382 generally result in the prohibition of transactions between these individuals and any U.S. person, and the freezing of any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

Identifying information:

Name: Mun Cho’ng-Ch’o’l
Nationality: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.)
Location: C/O Tanchon Commercial Bank, Saemaeul 1-Dong, Pyongchon District, Pyongyang, North Korea
Title: Tanchon Commercial Bank Representative

Name: Yo’n Cho’ng-Nam
Nationality: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.)
Location: Dalian, China
Title: Chief Representative, KOMID

Name: Ko Ch’o’l-Chae
Nationality: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.)
Location: Dalian, China
Title: Deputy Representative, KOMID

ENERGY DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES NEXT ROUND OF "DATA JAMS"

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Ian Kalin
Director of the Energy Data Initiative

 

2012 was a good year for American innovation. The outgrowth of the "Data Jam" from the health sector into other areas like energy and education sparked an inspiring wave of entrepreneurship. These Jams -- formerly known as Joint Application Modeling Sessions -- were a major improvement to the familiar format of public-private collaboration workshops. Looking to 2013, the Energy Department is announcing today the next round of Data Jams.

The new Data Jams are being co-hosted and organized by regional innovation hubs, industry groups and start-up incubators. Although focused on certain geographies and sectors, they all have the same common structure:
Step One: Assemble inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs from the private sector, government, academia and non-profit entities.
Step Two: Provide an introduction to valuable open datasets and align them to common challenges.
Step Three: Small groups brainstorm new products, services, apps or features that could solve common challenges and be created within 90 days.
Step Four: Large group votes on the best ideations.
Step Five: Individuals volunteer to create new products within 90 days.

Beyond the obvious commercial advantage of creating new products that help people, another incentive for volunteers at Data Jams is the possibility of being invited to annual showcase Datapaloozas, like the one hosted by the Energy Department last October. As demonstrated by the roster of upcoming Data Jams, the Federal government is not required to be "at the table" in order to host a Data Jam. Data Jams can be held wherever there are people willing to convene innovators with a bias-for-action. In the next few months, Energy Data Jams will include a vehicles-focused Data Jam with the automotive industry in Detroit, the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, NC, Boston Cleanweb, and New York City Energy Week.

U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER AMENDMENTS TO HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTION

 Gothic Revival Hungarian Parliament Building on the West side of the Danube.
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Proposed Amendments to the Hungarian Constitution
Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 7, 2013
 

The United States shares the concerns expressed by the Council of Europe about proposed amendments to the Hungarian constitution. These amendments deserve closer scrutiny and more deliberate consideration, as they could threaten the principles of institutional independence and checks and balances that are the hallmark of democratic governance.

The United States urges the Government of Hungary and the Parliament to ensure that the process of considering amendments to the constitution demonstrates respect for the rule of law and judicial review, openness to the views of other stakeholders across Hungarian society, and continuing receptiveness to the expertise of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.

ADDITONAL INFORMATION FROM CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

Hungary became a Christian kingdom in A.D. 1000 and for many centuries served as a bulwark against Ottoman Turkish expansion in Europe. The kingdom eventually became part of the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed during World War I. The country fell under Communist rule following World War II. In 1956, a revolt and an announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact were met with a massive military intervention by Moscow. Under the leadership of Janos KADAR in 1968, Hungary began liberalizing its economy, introducing so-called "Goulash Communism." Hungary held its first multiparty elections in 1990 and initiated a free market economy. It joined NATO in 1999 and the EU five years later. In 2011, Hungary assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the EU for the first time.

 

West Wing Week: 03/08/13 or “Jedi Mind-Meld” | The White House

West Wing Week: 03/08/13 or “Jedi Mind-Meld” | The White House

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY HAGEL VISITS AFGHANISTAN

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Hagel Visits Afghanistan to Thank Troops, Assess Operations
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service


KABUL, Afghanistan, March 8, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel landed here today on his first trip as the Defense Department's leader to thank U.S. troops and to see for himself "where we are in Afghanistan."

Hagel, who was sworn in Feb. 27, said he's looking forward to visiting U.S. service members and thanking them for their work.

"I think it's always important, when new leadership comes into any office in our national security organization, that we recognize the people who make it all possible and who are the ones on the front line," he said to reporters traveling with him during the flight.

The new secretary's last trip to Afghanistan was in the summer of 2008, he noted, along with then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Hagel said he also was a member of the first congressional delegation to visit the country in January 2002.

"I need to better understand what's going on there," the secretary said. "I need to talk to, listen to, get a good sense from our commanders on the ground."

Hagel said he's interested in seeing for himself, and discussing with Afghan and NATO International Security Assistance Force partners, "where the Afghans are in some of their capabilities." He added that he has spoken by telephone this week with both Afghan Defense Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan.

The secretary said he looks forward to meeting with Mohammadi during his visit, and to talking with senior ISAF leaders, including Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who took over command of the coalition force from Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen on Feb. 10.

Hagel said he also looks forward to getting reacquainted with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whom he first met in 2002.

The secretary said that as the alliance prepares for the final stage of transitioning to Afghan security lead in their own country, there are "a lot of big issues and challenge ahead."

"That transition has to be done right; it has to be done in partnership with the Afghans [and] with our allies," he said. "Our country -- as well as Afghanistan, the region and our allies -- have a lot at stake here. Our continued focus and energy and attention on Afghanistan is going to be very important."

With some 66,000 U.S. service members still at war in a combat zone, Hagel said, "I don't minimize or marginalize anything." While discussions are ongoing among Afghan, U.S. and NATO member governments, he said, the question of ISAF troop numbers and mission beyond 2014 remains open.

As NATO's combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, the secretary said, it's important to manage the transition so the Afghan people have the best possible chance at a secure future.

"I think we all have invested an awful lot here in this effort, especially the men and women who made tremendous sacrifices from our country, and their families," he said. "I think we are transitioning in a way that gives the Afghan people a very hopeful future."

Hagel said any follow-on mission for U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the transition is complete in 2014 will be far different from the lead combatant role they've played for 12 years.

The new mission, as the president has outlined, will be training, assistance and advice, he said. "What we're working through ... with the Afghan government is a bilateral agreement that will address some of these future issues," he added. "Our role as we transition out is a totally different role."

Responding to a reporter's question on North Korea's government, which reportedly has threatened to launch a nuclear strike against the United States, the secretary said "the United States of America and our allies are prepared to deal with any threat ... that occurs in the world."

U.S. ASSISTANCE TO YEMEN

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 7, 2013


The United States supports Yemen through a comprehensive strategy to promote the political, economic, and security sector reforms underpinning the Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered political transition initiative. Our focus is to enable the government to respond to the great needs and challenges facing the Yemeni people. We committed $356 million to Yemen in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 – the largest amount of annual assistance ever provided by the U.S. government for Yemen. Our aid seeks both to address urgent needs and to facilitate Yemen’s long-term development, growth, and stability. Assisting Yemen’s transition remains a priority for the United States, and we will seek to continue providing significant support this year.

Political Transition

In coordination with the international community, including the United Nations, the United States plans to provide $10.4 million in technical and operational assistance to support the Yemeni-led National Dialogue process, slated to begin March 18. We plan to contribute $1.2 million to support constitutional reform and referendum projects. We also plan to provide $8.4 million in technical assistance to prepare for national elections in February 2014, including for reforms to Yemen’s voter registry. We are also supporting the efforts of Yemeni women to ensure their voices and perspectives contribute to Yemen’s transition.

Economic Growth and Development

The United States supports improvements in the livelihoods and economic opportunity for Yemeni citizens in line with the Yemeni-endorsed Mutual Accountability Framework (MAF). We are contributing to job creation and capacity-building of local communities through infrastructure rehabilitation, micro-finance and small enterprise support, and agriculture development. We are helping rebuild conflict-affected communities in the south. And we are supporting the improvement of Yemen’s healthcare system through programs that reduce maternal, newborn and child health mortality and morbidity, and by helping the Ministry of Public Health and Planning develop stronger maternal and child health commodity supply chains to better address treatment shortages in vulnerable communities.

Humanitarian Assistance

The United States contributed $119 million in humanitarian assistance last year to address Yemen’s pressing needs. Our aid serves to address the emergency needs of the most vulnerable populations, in coordination with the United Nation’s Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan.

Security

To sustain Yemen’s ongoing security sector reform and counterterrorism efforts throughout the transition period, the United States provided roughly $46 million in Department of State-funded security assistance to Yemen in FY 2012, as well as $112 million in Department of Defense-funded programs to train and equip the Yemeni security forces to conduct counterterrorism operations. We are also actively supporting Yemen’s security sector reorganization.


FEMA SAYS NEARLY $721 MILLION IN PUBLIC ASSISTANCE GRANTS TO REIMBURSE GOVERNMENTS

Photo:  Hurricane Sandy Aftermath.  Credit:  U.S. Air Force.
FROM: U.S. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
Public Assistance: By the Numbers
Release date:
March 7, 2013
Release Number:
NR-182

NEW YORK CITY
— Since Hurricane Sandy struck New York, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved nearly $721 million in Public Assistance grants to reimburse state, tribal, local governments and eligible private nonprofits for some of the costs of emergency response, debris removal and repairing or rebuilding damaged public facilities. More than 268 grants have been approved so far. Here are some of the recent reimbursements:

Emergency work expenses
$7 million to the New York Department of Environmental Protection
for reconstruction of environmentally associated facilities such as Water Waste Treatment Plants
$5.9 million to the New York City Department of Housing and Preservation Development for demolition of residential structures that were in imminent danger of collapse
$634,924 to the Office of the Mayor of New York for an ongoing effort by the Mayor’s office to provide communication for disaster victims regarding food, housing assistance, emergency shelter locations and the housing rapid repairs program
$152,644 to the Seaford Union Free School District for providing school transportation for students

Permanent work expenses
$2.8 million to the East Rockaway Union Free School District
for repairs to the Junior and Senior High School
$37,234 to the Village of Atlantic Beach for the replacement of wooden walkways and fences that were damaged

Debris removal
$6.8 million to the Town of Huntington

$4 million to the Town of Babylon
$345,402 to the Old Westbury Gardens to clean up more than 200 fallen trees which created 19,500 cubic yards of debris throughout the 250 acres of the historical Old Westbury Gardens

FEMA’s Public Assistance program reimburses state, tribal, local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations 75 percent of eligible costs of emergency and permanent work. The remaining 25 percent is provided by non-federal funds. The state forwards the federal funds to the eligible local governments or organizations that incurred costs.

CIVIL WAR HEROS FINALY LAID TO REST AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETARY


FROM: U.S. NAVY

130307-O-ZZ999-004 DULLES, Va. (March 7, 2013) Members of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard conduct a dignified transfer of remains ceremony at Washington Dulles International Airport for one of two Sailors recovered from the ironclad USS Monitor. Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 1862. The two Sailors will be interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority by by Rob Yingling/Released)

GEN. MATHIS SAYS TRAINING HAS REDUCED INSIDER ATTACKS IN AFGHANISTAN

Marine Corps General James N. Mathis
FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Training Reduces Insider Attacks, Mattis Says
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2013 - Effective counterintelligence training and vigilance has helped to reduce the threat of insider attacks to one this year, the commander of U.S. Central Command said here today.

Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the decline of "green-on-blue" violence in Afghanistan, where Afghan soldiers attack U.S. military personnel and their coalition partners.

As of September 2012, 45 International Security Assistance Force members had been killed during insider attacks.

"It goes to the very heart of trust," Mattis said. "So far this year, [there's only been] one attack. Now, I do not get complacent. I think I know why it's gone down. It has to do with training.

"It has to do with counterintelligence training we've given to the Afghans so they have ferreted out some of these people inside their ranks, and caught them," he added. "And we have very good techniques for doing that."

Despite the decline in attacks, Mattis said there has been very little change in interaction with Afghan troops.

Mattis said if contrasted to two years ago, "you would probably find very little difference in what you saw as far as our troops interacting with their troops."

"We are very much involved with them, integrated with them," he said. "We are obviously taking what you would consider prudent measures in the field to protect ourselves."

Mattis noted Afghan troops have lost more of their own in "green-on-green" than U.S. forces have in green-on-blue attacks.

"So we have had wholehearted support from the Afghan leadership in addressing this problem," he said. "And it appears to be paying off."

STATE DEPARTMENT REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES TESTIFIES ON NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR TESTING

Bridge of No Return.  Korean Border.  Credit:  CIA World Factbook.
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
U.S. Policy Toward North Korea
Testimony
Glyn Davies
Special Representative for North Korea Policy
Testimony Before the Senate Committee On Foreign Relations
Washington, DC
March 7, 2013


Chairman Menendez, Senator Corker, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today on U.S. policy toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Nearly sixty years have passed since the conclusion of the armistice that ended the hostilities of the Korean War, yet North Korea still persists as one of the thorniest challenges confronting the United States and the international community. Pyongyang’s February announcement of a third nuclear test—conducted in brazen defiance of the demands of the United Nations Security Council—and its subsequent threats to conduct even more follow-on "measures" are only the latest in a long line of reminders that the DPRK’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities pose serious threats to U.S. national security, to regional security in the Asia-Pacific, and to the global nonproliferation regime.

Pyongyang continues to violate its international obligations and commitments, including to denuclearize. Its human rights record remains deplorable. Its economy is stagnant. Its people are impoverished. It pours significant sums into nuclear and ballistic missile programs that are forbidden by the United Nations. The leadership’s choices are isolating North Korea from the international community. International outrage against North Korea and its provocative and threatening actions, meanwhile, continues to grow.

The DPRK has consistently failed to take advantage of the alternatives available. The United States offered—and has continued to offer—Pyongyang an improved relationship with the United States and integration into the international community, provided North Korea demonstrated a willingness to fulfill its denuclearization commitments and address other concerns. The DPRK rebuffed these offers and instead responded with a series of provocations that drew widespread international condemnation.

Pyongyang appeared prepared to enter a period of serious diplomatic engagement in mid-2011, and the United States responded with a proactive, nearly-year-long diplomatic effort to push forward on denuclearization in a way that would lay the groundwork for improved bilateral relations. Starting in July 2011 and continuing over the next ten months, the United States and the DPRK held three rounds of bilateral denuclearization talks on three continents. In our meetings, we worked to forge the conditions necessary for resuming the Six-Party Talks, which had been stalled since 2008. Shortly after Kim Jong Un’s assumption of power, we reached a modest but potentially important bilateral understanding announced on February 29, 2012.

Pyongyang announced its commitment to, among other things, a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and all nuclear activity, including uranium enrichment activity, at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. North Korea also committed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to return to Yongbyon to monitor the cessation of uranium enrichment and confirm the disablement of plutonium-related facilities there.

But just 16 days later, North Korea reneged on these commitments by announcing its intent to launch a satellite into orbit. Such launches use ballistic missile technology proscribed by multiple UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs), and we had made it abundantly clear during our negotiations that such a launch, even if characterized as a satellite launch, would be a deal-breaker. Pyongyang nevertheless conducted such a launch on April 13 and was greeted by deep international opprobrium. All five Six-Party partners—China, Russia, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Japan—joined a long list of states publicly condemning Pyongyang’s provocation. The UN Security Council unanimously issued a Presidential Statement condemning the act as a "serious violation" of UNSCRs 1718 and 1874, tightened existing sanctions, and made clear its commitment to "take action accordingly" in the event of another launch.

North Korea again brazenly defied the international community on December 12, 2012, with another long-range missile launch, again characterized by the DPRK as a satellite launch, in flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874 and in the face of united public and private calls by the international community to desist. Over 60 countries and international organizations issued statements criticizing the launch. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted UNSCR 2087, which condemned the launch, further expanded the scope of sanctions on the DPRK, and promised "significant action" in the event of a future DPRK missile launch or nuclear test.


The announcement of a nuclear test which Pyongyang proclaimed was targeted against the United States, represents an even bolder threat to U.S. national security, the stability of the region, and the global nonproliferation regime. The international response has been unprecedented. Over 80 countries and international organizations from all corners of the world have decried the test. Many are speaking out against DPRK provocations for the first time. As the list continues to grow, it is increasingly clear that an international consensus is coalescing in opposition to North Korea’s destabilizing activities.

We are working with the international community to make clear that North Korea’s nuclear test has costly consequences. In adopting Resolution 2087 in January after the December launch, the UN Security Council pledged to take "significant action" in the event of a nuclear test; we are working hard at the UN Security Council to make good on that pledge. We are intensively engaged with our Six-Party partners, members of the UN Security Council, and other UN member states on a strong and credible response by the international community.

China’s support for firm action remains key, and we are deeply engaged with the Chinese in shaping an appropriate response. We are strengthening our close coordination with our Six-Party partners and regional allies. And—through a whole-of-government approach, working closely with our partners in the Department of Defense and other agencies—we will take the steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies, particularly the ROK and Japan. We have reassured both Seoul and Tokyo, at the highest levels, of our commitment to extended deterrence through the U.S. nuclear umbrella, conventional capabilities, and missile defense.

North Korea’s WMD, ballistic missile, conventional arms, and proliferation activities constitute a serious and unacceptable threat to U.S. national security, to say nothing of the integrity of the global nonproliferation regime, which many around the world have labored—over generations—to devise, nurture, and enforce. Effective, targeted multilateral and national sanctions will consequently remain a vital component of our efforts to impede the DPRK’s efforts to advance its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities. UNSCR 2087 was an important step forward in this regard. Combined with the measures in resolutions 1718 and 1874, UNSCR 2087 further constricts North Korea’s efforts to procure weapons components, send agents abroad, smuggle dual-use items, and make headway on its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Full and transparent implementation of these resolutions by all UN member states, including China, is critical. We are actively engaged with the international community to underscore the importance of full enforcement of these measures.

We also continue to exercise national authorities to sanction North Korean entities, individuals, and those that support them in facilitating programs that threaten the American people. Most recently, on January 24, the Departments of State and the Treasury designated a number of North Korean individuals and entities under Executive Order 13382, which targets actors involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters. The Department of State designated the Korean Committee for Space Technology—North Korea’s space agency—and several officials directly involved in North Korea’s April 2012 and December 2012 launches, which contributed to the DPRK’s long-range ballistic missile development efforts. The Department of the Treasury designated several Beijing-based North Korean officials linked to the DPRK’s Tanchon Commercial Bank, which has been designated by the UN and the United States for its role in facilitating the sales of conventional arms, ballistic missiles, and related items. The Treasury Department also targeted Leader (Hong Kong) International Trading Limited, a Hong Kong-based firm, for its links to the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, the DPRK’s premier arms dealer and exporter of missile- and weapon-related goods.

We will continue to take national measures as appropriate. We are also working closely with the UN Security Council’s DPRK sanctions committee and its Panel of Experts, the EU and like-minded partners, and others around the globe to harmonize our sanctions programs and to ensure the full and transparent implementation of UNSCRs 1718, 1874, and 2087, which remain the heart of the multilateral sanctions regime.

Sanctions are not a punitive measure, but rather a tool to impede the development of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and proliferation-related exports, as well as to make clear the costs of North Korea’s defiance of its international obligations. Working toward our endgame—the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner—will require an openness to meaningful dialogue with the DPRK. But the real choice is up to Pyongyang.

We remain committed to authentic and credible negotiations to implement the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and to bring North Korea into compliance with its international obligations through irreversible steps leading to denuclearization. The President made this clear last November when he said, "…let go of your nuclear weapons and choose the path of peace and progress. If you do, you will find an extended hand from the United States of America." But let me state the obvious: North Korea’s reckless provocations have certainly raised the bar for a return to dialogue.

The United States will not engage in talks for the sake of talks. Rather, what we want are negotiations that address the real issue of North Korea’s nuclear program. Authentic and credible negotiations therefore require a serious, meaningful change in North Korea’s priorities demonstrating that Pyongyang is prepared to meet its commitments and obligations to achieve the core goal of the September 2005 Joint Statement: the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.

This leads to some other important principles. First and foremost, the United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. We will not reward the DPRK for the absence of bad behavior. We will not compensate the DPRK merely for returning to dialogue. We have also made clear that U.S.-DPRK relations cannot fundamentally improve without sustained improvement in inter-Korean relations and human rights. Nor will we tolerate North Korea provoking its neighbors. These positions will not change.

In the meantime, active U.S. diplomacy on North Korea—on a wide range of issues—continues. Close coordination with our valued treaty allies, the ROK and Japan, remains central to our approach.

ROK President Park Geun-hye and President Obama agree on the need for continued close U.S.-ROK coordination on a range of security issues, including North Korea. We are confident of President Park’s commitment to the U.S.-ROK alliance and anticipate close consultation with her administration on its North Korea strategy. Close consultation will also continue with Japan. During his visit to Washington in late February, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama agreed to continue working together closely in responding to the threat posed by North Korea, including through coordination on sanctions measures.

We have also expanded our engagement by developing new dialogues on North Korea with key global actors who have joined the rising chorus of regional and global voices calling on North Korea to fulfill its commitments, comply with its international obligations, and refrain from provocative acts that undermine regional security and the global nonproliferation regime.

China, however, remains central to altering North Korea’s cost calculus. Both geography and history have endowed the People’s Republic of China with a unique—if increasingly challenging—diplomatic, economic, and military relationship with the DPRK. Close U.S.-China consultations on North Korea will remain a key locus of our diplomatic efforts in the weeks and months ahead as we seek to bring further pressure to bear on North Korea and, over the longer term, seek genuine diplomatic openings to push forward on denuclearization.

While denuclearization remains an essential focus of U.S. policy, so, too, does the welfare of North Korea’s nearly 25 million people, the vast majority of whom bear the brunt of their government’s decision to perpetuate an unsustainable, self-impoverishing military-first policy. While the DPRK devotes limited resources to developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and devising ways to avoid sanctions, one in three North Korean children is chronically malnourished, according to a 2009 UNICEF estimate. An elaborate network of political prison camps in the country is reportedly estimated to contain 100,000-200,000 inmates, who are subjected to forced labor, torture, and starvation. It has been reported that whole families have been condemned—in most cases without trial—when one member commits an alleged crime. The courageous and charismatic Shin Dong-hyuk, whose life story is chronicled in Blaine Harden’s excellent book, Escape from Camp 14, was born in one of the most infamous political prison camps and spent the first 23 years of his life there. He was not only tortured and subjected to forced labor, but was also cruelly made to witness—at the age of 14—the execution of his mother and his brother.

Even outside this prison-camp system, the North Korean government dictates nearly all aspects of people’s lives through a highly structured social classification system called songbun, which it uses to divide North Korea’s population into categories. This system, in turn, determines access to education and health care, employment opportunities, place of residence, and marriage prospects. Improving human rights conditions is an integral part of our North Korea policy, and how the DPRK addresses human rights will have a significant impact on prospects for improved U.S.-DPRK ties.

The world is increasingly taking note of the grave, widespread, and systematic human rights violations in the DPRK and demanding action. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called for an in-depth international inquiry to document abuses. We support this call, and next week, my colleague Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Robert King will travel to Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights Council’s 22nd session, where he will call attention to North Korea’s human rights record and urge the adoption of an enhanced mechanism of inquiry into the regime’s abuses against the North Korean people.

We continue, meanwhile, to engage countries across the globe to raise awareness about North Korea and enlist their help in pushing for action. We are also working with international and non-governmental organizations to improve the situation on the ground for the North Korean people, including by supporting the flow of independent information into the DPRK. Working with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and independent broadcasters in the ROK, we aim to provide information to the North Korean people and—over the longer term—plant the seeds for the development of civil society.

The Obama Administration’s dual-track policy of engagement and pressure toward the DPRK reflects a bipartisan recognition that only a policy of openness to dialogue when possible, combined with sustained, robust pressure through sanctions when necessary, can maximize prospects for progress in denuclearizing North Korea.

Progress on this decades-old problem will not be achieved easily or quickly. We cannot and should not dignify or, worse, feed the North Korean narrative that U.S. actions determine DPRK behavior. North Korea makes its own choices, selects its own timing, and is alone responsible for its actions. Similarly, we need to bear in mind that this is certainly not now—if it ever truly was—solely or even primarily a bilateral U.S.-DPRK issue. It is, rather, increasingly a global issue that requires an entrepreneurial approach, multilateral diplomacy and—yes—continuing, robust American leadership.

But above all else, genuine progress requires a fundamental shift in North Korea’s strategic calculus. The DPRK leadership must choose between provocation or peace, isolation or integration. North Korea will not achieve security, economic prosperity, and integration into the international community while it pursues nuclear weapons, threatens its neighbors, tramples on international norms, abuses its own people, and refuses to fulfill its longstanding obligations and commitments.

The international community has been increasingly clear about this, and so have we. The DPRK leadership in Pyongyang faces sharp choices. And we are working to further sharpen those choices. If the North Korean regime is at all wise, it will re-embark on the path to denuclearization for the benefit of the North Korean people, the Northeast Asia region, and the world.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.