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Obama Pushes Back, Syria Talks Set For Jan. 22: Early Bird—Brought to you by United Technologies

By Stacy Kaper (@KaperSLK) and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense and foreign-policy coverage from around the Web. Get this by forward? Click here to sign up directly.


White House Launches Push to Sell Its Iran Nuclear Deal
(The Wall Street Journal: Carol Lee, Peter Nicholas)
The Obama administration is mounting an aggressive campaign to head off new congressional sanctions against Iran, arguing they would jeopardize the high-stakes deal sealed this past weekend to curb Tehran's nuclear program. 

Senators Writing New Sanctions In Case Iran Cheats
(Associated Press: Bradley Klapper)
Leading Democratic and Republican senators are crafting legislation to reinstate the full force of sanctions and impose new ones if Iran doesn't make good on its pledge to roll back its nuclear program, brushing aside the Obama administration's fears about upending its diplomatic momentum. 

Syria Peace Talks Set For Jan. 22 In Geneva
(Reuters: Stephanie Nebehay)
An international peace conference for Syria will begin on Jan. 22, the first direct talks between President Bashar al-Assad's government and rebels seeking to overthrow him, the United Nations said.


Obama Signals A Shift From Military Might To Diplomacy
(The New York Times: Mark Landler)
The two nearly simultaneous developments in Iran and Syria are vivid statements that diplomacy, the venerable but often-unsatisfying art of compromise, has once again become the centerpiece of American foreign policy.

U.S. May Pull Out All Troops as Afghan Leader Holds Up Deal
(Reuters: Jessica Donati, Mark Felsenthal)
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security deal with the United States, the White House said, opening up the prospect of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the strife-torn nation next year. 


Obama Pushes Back Against Critics of Iran Deal
(Associated Press: Julie Pace)
Pushing back hard, Obama forcefully defended the temporary agreement to freeze Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Easing of Iran Sanctions Could Start in December
(Associated Press: John-Thor Dahlburg and Brian Murphy)
European Union sanctions against Iran could be eased as soon as December.


Former Hostages React to Nuclear Deal
(Associated Press: Matthew Barakat)
For many of the 66 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days at the start of the Iranian revolution, trusting the regime in Tehran feels like a mistake. 

Not All Israelis Are Furious About the Iran Nuclear Deal
(The Atlantic: Jordan Gerstler-Holton)
Israeli leaders like President Shimon Peres and former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin have expressed cautious optimism about the diplomatic breakthrough.

A Battered Israel Resumes Campaign Against Iran
(Associated Press: Josef Federman)
Israeli officials are already picking up the pieces and planning a fight to shape a final agreement that negotiators hope to reach in six months.

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Tough Road Lies Ahead After Landmark Iran Nuclear Deal
(Reuters: Louis Charbonneau and Parisa Hafezi)
In a sign of how difficult the coming talks will be, some differences emerged between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart in their public presentation of a key part of the deal—whether or not Iran preserved the right to enrich uranium.

Netanyahu Sending Security Aide to U.S. for Talks on Iran
(Reuters: Jeffrey Heller)
Israel's top security adviser plans to go to Washington to discuss a comprehensive nuclear deal that the United States and five other powers hope to negotiate with Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

AIPAC Has 'Serious Concerns' With Iran Deal
(The Hill: Kevin Bogardus)
One of Washington's most prominent pro-Israel groups expressed concerns Monday about the agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program.


Afghan Leader, Rice at Odds Over Security Deal
(Associated Press: Patrick Quinn)
Hamid Karzai said he won't back down from his refusal to sign during the rest of his term in office, with National Security Adviser Susan Rice responding that this would mean the U.S. would then start planning to pull out all its forces after 2014.

Pakistan Unveils Its Own Military Drones, As Protests Continue Against U.S. Attacks
(The Washington Post: Tim Craig, Haq Nawaz Khan)
After years of preparation, two Strategically Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were formally announced by Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of Pakistan's military.

A Return to Stoning Won't Help the Effort to Rebrand Afghanistan
(Defense One: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon)
Stoning may once again become the law in Afghanistan.


U.N. Says Syria Peace Talks To Take Place Jan. 22
(Associated Press: John Heilprin)
Syria's government and opposition will meet for the first time in an attempt to halt the nearly 3-year-old civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people, the United Nations said.

Ahead of Syria Peace Talks, Local Truces Falter
(The Wall Street Journal: Sam Dagher)
With the first peace talks between the Syrian regime and opposition now set for January, a series of failed government efforts to forge regional truces underscores the deep mistrust between them. 

Syria Talks Aim to Build on Momentum of Iran Deal
(Associated Press: Zeina Karam and John Heilprin)
The opposition remains vague on whether it will even attend the Geneva conference called for Jan. 22, and both sides hold fundamentally different visions on the very basics, particularly the future role of President Bashar Assad.


House Intel Chair Left in Dark on Secret Iran Talks
(The Hill: Mario Trujillo)
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee expressed concern Monday that Congress was left in the dark about secret negotiations between the Obama administration and Iran.

Iran Agreement's Unsettled Timetable Adds to Tensions in Congress
(National Journal: Stacy Kaper, Elahe Izadi)
Confusion over the actual start date of the interim agreement with Iran is complicating lawmakers' attempts to police negotiations over the country's nuclear program.

Defense Bill Caught in Congress' Political Wrangling
(Associated Press: Donna Cassata)
With just a few legislative days left in the year, the latest machinations leave in jeopardy a bill that authorizes money for personnel, war-fighting equipment and the conflict in Afghanistan.


Unnamed U.S. Officials Speculate on Snowden's 'Doomsday Cache'
(The Verge: Russell Brandom)
Unnamed officials told Reuters they now believe Snowden may have accessed the so-called "doomsday cache," which includes the names of U.S. and allied intelligence personnel.

NSA May Have Penetrated Internet Cable Links
(The New York Times: Nicole Perlroth, John Markoff)
People knowledgeable about Google and Yahoo's infrastructure say they believe that government spies bypassed the big Internet companies and hit them at a weak spot — the fiber-optic cables that connect data centers around the world.


U.S. and Saudis in Growing Rift as Power Shift
(The New York Times: Robert Worth)
Although the Saudis remain close American allies, the nuclear accord with Iran is the culmination of a slow mutual disenchantment that began at the end of the Cold War. 

Pipe Dream: Israel-Turkey 'Peace Pipeline' Unlikely to Thaw Relations
(Defense One: Allison Good)
There are two camps regarding the subsea natural gas "peace pipeline" between Israel and Turkey: those who believe that economics trumps political differences, and those who do not.

Palestinian Peace Talks May Languish After Iranian Accord
(Bloomberg: Jonathan Ferziger)
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks may suffer collateral damage from the accord world powers reached with Iran if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu persists in linking his two biggest diplomatic challenges.


Hagel Praises Deal With Iran, Worries About Afghanistan
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
In his first public statements about the high-stakes talks with Iran, Hagel said Monday that the deal to slow Iran's nuclear ambitions poses "minimal" risks for the United States. 

Pentagon Builds Forces in Pacific, Eyes China
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
The Pentagon is fortifying bases in the Pacific and looking to revive World War II-era air bases as part of an effort to survive a Chinese missile attack that could wipe out critical installations on Okinawa and elsewhere 

Military Struggles to React to Potentially Dangerous Supplements
(Stars and Stripes: Travis J. Tritten)
Some are calling on DOD to enact new restrictions on dietary supplements sold on base, warning that the current system is unable to protect hundreds of thousands of military consumers from potentially dangerous supplements.


Airman From Mountain Home Dies in Canyon Fall
(Associated Press)
An airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base died in a fall in Bruneau Canyon south of Mountain Home.

One-star General Nominated to Get Third Star
(Air Force Times: Jeff Schogol)
Air Force Brig. Gen. Christopher Burne has been nominated to catapult over his second star and get his third star as the next judge advocate general of the Air Force. 


War Game Compares Response of Two Versions of Future Army
(Army Times: Lance M. Bacon)
A major shift is making squads and brigades smaller, making use of robotics as well as unmanned ground and aerial vehicles.


Chosin Returns to Hawaii After Six-Month Deployment
(Navy Times)
The cruiser Chosin made it home in time for Thanksgiving, returning to Hawaii after a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific. 


Ruling Party's Lead Disputed in Honduran Presidential Election
(Los Angeles Times: Tracy Wilkinson)
Chanting "take to the streets" on Monday, Honduran supporters of the country's first major pro-Left political party vigorously protested official presidential election results that showed their candidate losing.


Thailand Protesters Storm Finance, Foreign Ministries
(Los Angeles Times: Mark Magnier)
Blowing whistles and calling for the prime minister to resign, antigovernment demonstrators forced their way into Thailand's finance and foreign ministries Monday.

U.S. Military Relief Effort for Philippine Typhoon Winding Down
(Stars and Stripes: Ashley Rowland)
The U.S. military's assistance for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan appears to be rapidly winding down as responsibility for relief efforts in a number of areas shifts to Philippine control.

China's Air Defense Zone Points to the Long Game
(Associated Press: Christopher Bodeen)
China's new air defense zone in the East China Sea further asserts its territorial claims over disputed islands but isn't expected to immediately spark confrontations with foreign aircraft. 

U.S. Hints at More Sanctions On North Korea After Iranian Deal
(Agence France-Presse)
Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, said he hoped quickening diplomacy examining when to resume stalled six-party talks would bear fruit. 

Chinese Police Detain Nine People After Sinopec Blast Kills 55
(Bloomberg News: Jason Rogers)
Seven people from China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. and two local officials were detained by police after the Nov. 22 explosion in Qingdao, the city's Huangdao district government said in a posting on its official microblog.


To Reach Iran Deal, Secret Diplomacy That Worked
(The Washington Post: David Ignatius)
Count the Iran nuclear deal as a rare win for President Obama's secretive, cerebral style of governing.

Iran Nuclear Deal Gap May Allow Off-Site Reactor Work
(Reuters: Fredrik Dahl)
Sunday's agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program contains an apparent gap that could allow Tehran to build components off-site to install later in a nuclear reactor where it has promised to halt work.

Iran Deal Bears Obama's Personal Stamp
(Reuters: Matt Spetalnick
When push came to shove in the closing hours of marathon negotiations in Geneva on Iran's nuclear program, it was Obama, back at the White House, who approved the final language on the U.S. side before the historic deal was clinched. 

The Battle for Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal)
Vladimir Putin wants to re-create a Russian sphere of influence.

Worse Than Munich
(The Wall Street Journal: Bret Stephens)
In 1938, Chamberlain bought time to rearm. In 2013, Obama gives Iran time to go nuclear.

Swiss Come to Their Senses on Soak-the-Rich Vote
(Bloomberg: Josef Joffe)
A sharp divide separates the two sides of the Atlantic on how to tax the wealthy.

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National Journal's Early Bird is not produced by or officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense. It was created to serve the defense community upon U.S. DoD's announcement, on Nov. 1, 2013, of its decision to discontinue the much-beloved Early Bird news report.

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Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

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