NATO warplanes bombed 15 targets in Tripoli; Libyan rebels will open diplomatic office in Washington DC; assessors say damage to Fukushima nuclear reactor worse than previously thought; US envoys in North Korea for humanitarian talks; Netanyahu says there can't be a return to 1967 borders, as suggested by Obama; more trouble in North Sudan; and more
Top of the Agenda: NATO Escalates Campaign Against Qaddafi
In their heaviest assault yet, NATO warplanes bombarded at least fifteen targets in the Libyan capital of Tripoli--most near the command base of dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. Analysts say the power of the airstrikes and the strategic targeting could indicate a NATO decision to ramp up the air campaign (NYT) in an effort to break a three-month stalemate in the hostilities.
U.S. President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron penned a joint letter in The Times today, writing, "We have degraded his war machine and prevented a humanitarian catastrophe (al-Jazeera). And we will continue to enforce the UN resolutions with our allies until they are completely complied with." For two months, NATO aircraft have been striking Libyan targets since the UN authorized "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from the Qaddafi regime.
The French government has offered to deploy attack helicopters as part of the escalation, and British officials are also considering the decision. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on more NATO and Arab nations to contribute military resources (WSJ) to the conflict, pointing out that the United States flies a quarter of all sorties and provides the majority of military intelligence.
According to the U.S. State Department, Libyan rebels have accepted an invitation to open a diplomatic office in Washington, DC. Jeffrey Feltman, a senior U.S. diplomat visiting the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, confirmed the U.S. position that that the rebel Transitional National Council (BBC) is the genuine representative of the Libyan nation.
On his CFR blog The Water's Edge, James M. Lindsay discusses President Obama's support for congressional action with regard to the hostilities in Libya and the extended use of U.S. military force.
On the Huffington Post, Moises Naim discusses the reasons the United States and Europe chose to attack in Libya and not in Syria.
In Foreign Affairs, David Kaye writes that the International Criminal Court took a risk in issuing arrest warrants for Qaddafi and other Libyan officials, as it remains unclear whether the warrants will ever be enforced and, beyond that, what effect they will have on the conflict in Libya.
This video from the Guardian shows last night's NATO air strikes on Tripoli--thought to be the most intense attack on the capital since action against Qaddafi began in March.
PACIFIC RIM: TEPCO Expands Damage Assessment
Officials for Tokyo Electric Power (CNN) said fuel rods in reactors No. 2 and 3 are believed to have partially melted in the first week of the facility's nuclear crisis in March 2011. Officials already reported that damage to the No. 1 reactor, which suffered nearly a total meltdown, was greater than previously stated.
North Korea: Envoys from the United States, led by Robert King, arrived in North Korea (Yonhap) for talks on humanitarian issues, including potential food shortages. U.S. food aid to Pyongyang was cut off in March 2009 due to heightened tensions over the North's nuclear and missile tests.