1. According to the Associated Press, North Korea's top governing body warned that the regime will conduct its third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. punishment, and made clear that its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads aimed at striking the United States. North Korea's National Defense Commission denounced the UN resolution condemning the country's long-range rocket launch as a banned missile activity and expanding sanctions against the regime.
2. According to Reuters, Russia warned Israel and the West against launching military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities but suggested Tehran should be quicker to cooperate over inspections of its nuclear sites. Speaking at his annual news conference, the Russian Foreign Minister said, "Attempts to prepare and implement strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and on its infrastructure as a whole are a very, very dangerous idea. We hope these ideas will not come to fruition."
3. According to The Associated Press, the top commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard insists his forces control shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway for one fifth of the world's oil. The commander's remarks, which were posted on the Guard's website, were apparently aimed at highlighting the Guard's control of the strategic waterway. Military officials say Iran has a plan to close the Strait but insist that the country's Supreme Leader would make the final decision.
4. According to Fox News, four American F-16 fighter jets have been sent to Egypt as part of a foreign aid package that critics say should have been scrapped when the nation elected a leader who has called the U.S. President a liar and urged that hatred of Jews be instilled in children. Sixteen F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks are to be given to the Egyptian government before the end of the year under a foreign aid deal signed in 2010 with then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. However, President Morsi's verbal attacks on the Jewish state and on the United States has caused concern over how the military aid will be used in the future.
5. According to The Associated Press, Palestinians plan to reassure Israel's public that they are partners for peace, after a strong showing of Israeli moderates in parliament elections ended the domination of hawkish parties. The activists said that a letter with such a message will be sent to Israeli legislators and the media in coming days. Palestinian officials say they are pleasantly surprised by the surge of centrist parties but doubt this will fundamentally alter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies.
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