Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
An Iranian nuclear scientist died in Tehran today after a motorcyclist attached a magnetic bomb to his car (NYT), Iranian authorities said. The killing of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan–a supervisor at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility–comes amid mounting tensions between Iran and the United States over the former's nuclear program, which the West says is intended for manufacturing nuclear weapons. Iran blamed the United States and Israel for the car bomb attack.
"No one doubts that Israeli and Western operators are behind recent assassinations of nuclear scientists on the streets of Tehran. And the sudden frequency of 'accidents' at various factories and Revolutionary Guards bases has done nothing to change the minds of either government officials or the general public about the nuclear program," writes Hooman Majd in Foreign Affairs.
"Does anyone doubt that some combination of the two nations completely obsessed with Iran's nuclear program–Israel and the U.S.–are responsible? At the very least, there has been no denunciation from any Obama officials of whoever it might be carrying out such acts," writes Glen Greenwald on Salon.com.
"It is true that the extensive circumstantial evidence is damning, and Iran has never fully implemented its Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Safeguards Agreement. But is it in U.S. national interest to bomb Iran to defend the principle of full cooperation with the IAEA? I would say no," writes Micah Zenko on his CFR blog, Politics, Power, and Preventive Action.
Arab League Monitor Criticizes Syria Mission
A former Arab League observer in Syria, Anwar Malek, said a mission monitoring the implementation of an agreed peace plan was a "farce," and that the Syrian regime was continuing to commit "war crimes" against its people (al-Jazeera).
More and more outsiders are calling for a humanitarian intervention in Syria to stop Bashar al-Assad's killing sprees. But for this to work, Syria's various opposition groups will have to first coalesce into a single, unified political and military force, writes Michael Weiss in Foreign Affairs.
Geithner Pressures China over Iran
During a visit to Beijing, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner encouraged Chinese officials to reduce China's imports of Iranian crude oil (WSJ), outlining a new U.S. sanctions policy that seeks to punish countries that trade with Iran.
The new sanctions regime places the U.S. tactics and objectives–a negotiated end to Iran's nuclear ambitions–at odds. In effect, the administration has backed itself into a policy of regime change, an outcome it has little ability to influence, writes Suzanne Maloney in Foreign Affairs.
NORTH KOREA: The government criticized the United States for "politicizing" food aid (KoreaTimes) by conditioning it on North Korea's suspension of its uranium-enrichment program, but indicated it might still be open to a deal.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistan's Judiciary Threatens PM
The Pakistani Supreme Court threatened to depose Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for not reopening corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari (NYT), in a further setback for the governing Pakistan People's Party.
PAKISTAN: A U.S. drone strike (AFP) on a militant compound in the tribal region of North Waziristan killed four in the first such attack in nearly two months.
Pakistan's stability is of great consequence to regional and international security. Examine the roots of its challenges, what it means for the region and the world, and explore some plausible futures for the country with this CFR Crisis Guide.
Obama to Send Military Officers to South Sudan
U.S. President Barack Obama said he will send five U.S. military officers to Juba to assist the United Nations mission (SAPA/AP) in South Sudan, following fresh outbreaks of ethnic violence in the recently independent country.
NIGERIA: A nationwide strike entered a third day (Reuters) over a government decision to revoke fuel subsidies, as the country continued to face mounting sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians.
In his blog, Africa in Transition, CFR's John Campbell questions whether Nigerians' distrust of their government will make it possible to reach a deal over fuel subsidies.
Romney Wins New Hampshire Primary
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire Republican primary with 39.4 percent of the vote (NYT). Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman came in second and third place, respectively.
CFR's Campaign 2012 project examines the foreign policy and domestic issues expected to dominate the U.S. presidential election.
COLOMBIA: President Juan Manuel Santos rejected an overture by FARC leaders (BBC) to engage in peace talks, saying the rebels needed to move beyond "rhetoric." Santos has said FARC rebels must release all hostages and cease attacks as a precondition for negotiations.
Merkel and Monti to Discuss Euro Crisis
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti will meet in Berlin today, where discussions are expected to focus on methods for promoting economic growth in the beleaguered eurozone (WSJ), in addition to implementing the tough austerity measures demanded by Germany.
Investors continue to doubt EU leaders' ability to address the sovereign debt crisis, even as banks face a liquidity crunch, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.
ITALY: Prime Minister Mario Monti's technocratic government is expected to issue a decree law targeting monopolies and special interests (Guardian), while also seeking to reform Italy's rigid labor laws.
More Corporations Paying No Federal Taxes
According to the IRS (WSJ), the percentage of U.S. businesses paying nothing in federal income tax has soared from about 24 percent in 1986 to about 69 percent as of 2008. The firms, known as "pass-through" entities, pass income to investors who then pay taxes as individuals.
Jane G. Gravelle and Thomas L. Hungerford of the Congressional Research Service examine the controversies regarding corporate tax reforms.
EDUCATION: The Education Department released its first annual report profiling the progress made by the twelve states awarded funding under Obama's "Race to the Top" education innovation program. Three states—New York, Hawaii, and Florida—fell short in making timely reforms.
Renewing America is a special CFR project focused on the domestic underpinnings of U.S. global competitiveness, including the debt and deficit, infrastructure, education, innovation, trade, and corporate regulation and taxes.