iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is publicly accusing Russia of violating a 1987 nuclear missile treaty, a declaration likely to deepen tensions between the two countries already at odds over crises in Ukraine, Syria, and the Middle East.
The allegations, raised by President Obama in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, center on ground-launched cruise missile tests conducted in 2011, an administration official said.
The United States determined those tests violated Russia's treaty agreement to not to, "possess, produce, or flight-test" missiles with a range of up to 5,500 kilometers. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, Treaty was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
"This is a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now," an administration official said, requesting anonymity to speak ahead of the formal announcement Tuesday.
The issue was first raised with Russia in early 2013 but its responses, "did not resolve our concerns," the official said.
An annual State Department compliance report on arms control treaties, due out on Tuesday, is expected to outline in detail the U.S. findings of the alleged Russian treaty violation.
While bilateral talks with Russia on a variety of topics have broken down in recent months, the White House has extended an invitation to Russian officials for high-level dialogue on the missile treaty effective immediately, officials said. The administration, which has informed Congress of its determination, believes Russia has the potential to return to treaty compliance if it chooses.
The treaty violation allegations were first reported by The New York Times.
The Obama administration's announcement comes as the U.S. and European Union impose another round of tighter economic sanctions against Russia this week over alleged Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine.
iStock/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed the lives of at least 672 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, but one person who survived the virulent disease is shedding light on what it's like to battle the virus.
Tawa Tamba, a mother of three in Liberia, was recently discharged after fighting off the potentially fatal disease.
Tawa's husband became very ill and died about four weeks ago. Tawa then went to a clinic run by the group Samaritan's Purse when one of her children fell ill with symptoms similar to that of her husband's.
Two of her children died, and she herself became very sick, according to Dr. Azaria Marthyman of Samaritan's Purse.
Tawa eventually recovered and was discharged on July 20.
"Tawa expressed her gratitude to God foremost and to all those who helped," Marthyman wrote in a blog post on the group's website.
"Thank you for praying for me every time you treated me!" Tawa told the staff, according to Marthyman.
iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- United States officials are "gravely concerned" about a Palestinian-American teen who has been in Israeli custody for three weeks, the State Department said Monday.
Another teen, Tariq Khdeir, drew headlines when he was arrested and allegedly beaten by Israeli authorities, but the State Department said another teen, 15-year-old U.S. citizen Mohamed Abu Nie, was arrested in Israel on July 3 during protests in the Shoafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
"Considering his age, we are calling for a speedy resolution to this case," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday. "This 15-year-old has now been held for three weeks in Israeli custody and has seen his parents only once briefly during that night. And so we are certainly gravely concerned about the detention of an American citizen child."
A U.S. consular official visited him on July 17 and attended a hearing on July 22, Psaki said, and the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv is in contact with his lawyer. The teen did not immediately inform Israeli officials that he was an American citizen, Psaki said, resulting in his delayed consular access.
He faces charges of, "rock-throwing, attacking police, carrying a knife and leading protests," Psaki said.
iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- Last week, Israel and Hamas blamed each other for explosions at a shelter that left at least 16 Palestinian civilians dead, and on Monday, fatal strikes near a hospital and refugee camp left 10 Palestinian children dead, according to Gazan health officials.
The Israeli Army insists its air and land forces were not operating in the area of the Al-Shifa hospital and the Al-Shati refugee camp when those two explosions occured.
Israeli military officials believes rocket misfires by Islamic Jihad were responsible for the fatal strikes at a park and hospital outpatient clinic.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhari blamed Israeli airstrikes for the attacks while eyewitness reportedly saw a drone.
In a press conference Monday, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis, "We must be prepared for a long operation."
Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Afghan armed forces are not keeping proper track of the hundreds of thousands of weapons given to them by the U.S. military, prompting fears U.S.-supplied arms could be falling into the hands of insurgents, a new U.S. government report says.
The report, from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), details troubling discrepancies in various inventory systems used by Afghan security forces to track the $626 million-worth of small arms and auxiliary equipment provided by the U.S. -- some discrepancies indicating hundreds of weapons are unaccounted for.
In one case, an audit found over 900 weapons listed in the property book at the Afghan National Army’s Central Supply Depot weren’t actually there. The missing small arms included 740 M16 rifles and all 112 M23 pistols.
“ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] record-keeping and inventory processes are poor and, in many cases, we were unable to conduct even basic inventory testing at the ANSF facilities we visited,” the SIGAR report says. “Although CSTC-A [Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan] has established end use monitoring procedures, the lack of adherence to these procedures, along with the lack of reliable weapons inventories, limits monitoring of weapons under Afghan control and reduces the ability to identify missing and unaccounted for weapons that could be used by insurgents to harm U.S., coalition, and ANSF personnel.”
Sometimes the Afghan forces had a surplus of weapons from the U.S. For instance, in the same depot as the 900 weapons that were unaccounted for, the Afghan military had an excess of nearly 200 M48 rifles and 80 M24 rifles.
SIGAR also found that some 80,000 AK-47s are floating around the Afghan military unnecessarily after the U.S. decided to stop providing those weapons in favor of NATO-standard weapons. There is no plan to round them up, SIGAR said.
“Given the Afghan government’s limited ability to account for or properly dispose of these weapons, there is a real potential for these weapons to fall into the hands of insurgents, which will pose additional risks to U.S. personnel, the ANSF, and Afghan civilians,” the SIGAR report states.
In the report, SIGAR called on the DoD to audit the systems that track the delivery of supplied arms and to perform a full inventory check.
In a response included in the SIGAR report, the Department of Defense said it agreed with a reevaluation of record keeping systems and aims to consolidate their databases, but says the U.S. military does not have the authority to require Afghan National Security Forces to reevaluate inventory, or to recover or destroy Afghan weapons.