Obama delays Syria strike; North and South Korea to restart operations at Kaesong industrial zone; Japan sends fighter jets to islands at heart of dispute with China; Pakistan to release Taliban leader; NSA "surveillance machine" too big to understand, according to documents; and more
Top of the Agenda: Obama Delays Syria Strike
President Barack Obama asked Congress to delay its deliberations on a possible military strike against Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons, saying in an address to the nation Tuesday evening that he would pursue a Russian proposal that would to dismantle the Assad regime's chemical weapons program (Bloomberg). Negotiations for a UN resolution that would put Syria's weapons under international control have faltered as Russia rejected U.S. and French demands that the resolution authorize the use of force to hedge against noncompliance (AP). Arms-control experts warn that inspecting and disarming Syria's chemical arsenal would be difficult during peacetime and those challenges will be amplified amidst a raging civil war (WaPo).
"Putin's move rescues Obama from what would almost certainly have been the most devastating defeat of his presidency. The speech was originally intended as a last-ditch effort to convince Congress to approve a bill authorizing him to use force against Bashar Assad's regime in Syria—a bill that the House of Representatives seemed set to vote down by a huge margin. Now, the vote can be put off while diplomacy is given another try," CFR Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow Fred Kaplan writes in Slate.
"Russia has publicly supported Assad's denials that he used sarin gas, but we are now supposed to believe it will thoroughly scrub Syria of those weapons. We are also supposed to believe Assad will come clean about the weapons he has long denied having and still denies using," the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.
"The hope must be that the U.S. and Russia overcome their divisions and agree to a Security Council resolution on Syria. That would be unprecedented in this conflict. The prospect of a credible U.S.-Russian deal would certainly make Mr. Assad start to sweat," the Financial Times writes in an editorial.
North, South Korea to Restart Joint Industrial Zone
North and South Korea agreed to resume operations of the Kaesong industrial zone in North Korea, which was closed in April due to political tensions (Yonhap). The joint project is home to more than one hundred South Korean factories and employs some 53,000 North Koreans.
CFR's Scott Snyder explains U.S. policy toward North Korea in this article.
CHINA: Japan sent an undisclosed number of fighter jets to the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, which lie at the heart of its territorial dispute with China, after an unidentified drone was spotted in the area (SCMP).