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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
Moscow has struck a deal with Iran to begin making hundreds of unmanned weaponized aircraft on Russian soil, according to new intelligence. Russian and Iranian officials finalized the agreement during a meeting in early November, and the two countries are now quickly moving to transfer designs and key components that could allow production to begin within months. Acquiring its own assembly line will enable Russia to drastically increase its stockpile of weapons, bolstering it in its war against Ukraine. Joby Warrick, Souad Mekhennet, and Ellen Nakashima report for the Washington Post.
More than a dozen explosions were recorded near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant over the weekend. Citing information provided by officials at the Russian-controlled plant, monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the explosions had caused damage to some buildings, systems, and equipment at the site, but nothing that was “critical for nuclear safety and security.” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi called the news of the explosions “extremely disturbing,” and reiterated calls for both Ukraine and Russia to agree and implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the plant. BBC News reports.
Videos have emerged that appear to show Ukrainian soldiers shooting captive Russian soldiers at close range. The videos, which surfaced last week, have ignited a debate over whether Ukrainian forces committed war crimes or acted in self-defense. Russia has accused Ukraine’s forces of “mercilessly shooting unarmed Russian [Prisoners of War]”, whereas Ukraine’s commissioner for human rights, Dmytro Lubinets, has said that Russian soldiers opened fire during the act of surrendering. The U.N. has said the episode should be investigated. Malachy Browne, Stephen Hiltner, Chevaz Clarke- Williams and Taylor Turner report for the New York Times.
The Ukrainian government is preparing to help evacuate residents from two cities whose infrastructure has been badly damaged by Russian attacks. Residents of Kherson and Mykolaiv will be given the option to leave, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk said, as supplies of running water, heat, and electricity in the cities remain precarious. Megan Specia and Matthew Mpoke Bigg report for the New York Times.
Spanish police will deploy in Ukraine over the coming weeks to help investigate alleged war crimes. A delegation of Spanish police officials has already arrived in Kyiv to meet with representatives of the Ukrainian public prosecutor’s office, the Spanish Interior Ministry said. Reuters reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has formally rebuked Iran for refusing to cooperate with the agency’s investigation into the country’s nuclear activities. The resolution, which demands Iran’s cooperation with the investigation, was presented by the U.S., France, the U.K., and Germany, with 26 of the 35 members of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board approving it. Russia and China voted against, while five others abstained. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Turkish warplanes carried out air strikes on Kurdish militant bases in northern Syria and northern Iraq yesterday, destroying 89 targets. The strikes were in retaliation for a bomb attack in Istanbul that killed six people one week ago, Turkey’s defense ministry said. Ali Kucukgocmen and Suleiman Al-Khalidi report for Reuters.
Diplomatics from nearly 200 countries have agreed to establish a fund to help poor countries cope with climate disasters made worse by wealthy nations. The decision on payments for loss and damage represented a breakthrough on one of the most contentious issues at the COP27 summit, which came to a close yesterday. The deal calls for a committee with representatives from 24 countries to work over the next year to figure out exactly what form the fund should take, which countries and financial institutions should contribute, and where the money should go. Brad Plumer, Max Bearak, Lisa Friedman, and Jenny Gross report for the New York Times.
A riot by Israeli pilgrims in the West Bank city of Hebron over the weekend has drawn widespread criticism. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides called the riot abhorrent and urged a rapid de-escalation of the situation. Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the events a “national disgrace.” Whilst Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz condemned the attacks on Palestinians and Israeli forces and said that those responsible would be held accountable. Incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued no statement, and Palestinian leaders have warned that his incoming right-wing government could cause further instability in the West Bank. Dov Lieber and Fatima AbdulKarim report for the Wall Street Journal.
Malaysia’s national elections are likely to result in a hung parliament, bringing more uncertainty to a country racked by years of political instability. Whilst a coalition led by veteran politician Anwar Ibrahim was in the lead with results announced for most of the parliamentary race, neither it nor the other two main coalitions are on course to secure the majority needed to form a new government. Feliz Solomon and Ying Xian Wong report for the Wall Street Journal.
New Zealand’s Supreme Court has ruled that the country’s current voting age of 18 is discriminatory. The decision means that the issues must now come before parliament for discussion and be reviewed by a parliamentary select committee. However, it does not force parliament to change the voting age. Reuters reports.
The U.S. is increasing the pace of its development of hypersonic weapons to keep up with China and Russia, a senior Navy admiral responsible for U.S. efforts said. “Up until just recently, there hasn’t been a real driver for us to take that technology and put it into a weapon system. The need was not there,” said Vice Admiral Johnny Wolfe, director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems program. “The need is now there, which is why we’ve got a sense of urgency to get after this.” Oren Liebermann reports for CNN.
Vice President Kamala Harris met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Monday to discuss 21 new projects funded by the U.S.. The projects, which are part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, include more defense sites around the Philippines – an indication to China that the U.S. is forging closer ties with the country. Speaking to reporters, Harris reaffirmed Washington’s “unwavering” commitment to the agreement. We must reiterate always that we stand with you in defense of rules and norms, [in the South China Sea],” Harris said. Kathleen Magramo reports for CNN.
At least 5 people were killed and 25 injured in a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado on Saturday. The gunman, who was overpowered at the scene by two nightclub attendees, has been identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich. Jack Healy, Mitch Smith, Adam Goldman and Patricia Mazzei report for the New York Times.
The authorities arrested two men on Saturday at New York’s Pennsylvania Station and seized a large hunting knife and an illegal firearm with a 30-round magazine. According to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the situation, the arrests followed threats made on social media about violence to Jewish sites, including “shooting up a synagogue.” Vimal Patel and McKenna Oxenden report for the New York Times.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed former Justice Department prosecutor Jack Smith to oversee two investigations involving former President Trump. As special counsel, Smith will handle the examination of classified and other presidential documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, as well as the probe into efforts by Trump and his allies to potentially illegally infer with the 2020 election. In his announcement, Garland cited the “extraordinary circumstances” at play, highlighting that now Trump has announced his candidacy for 2024, appointing a special counsel with a degree of independence from President Biden’s Justice Department was the right thing to do. Jennifer Rodgers provides analysis for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 98.309 million people and has now killed over 1.08 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 638.140 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.62 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.