Washington — The presidential Challenger commission is convinced that no cover-up was intended, even though some NASA documents about the space shuttle were destroyed after they had been ordered saved for investigators, administration sources say. An FBI agent was asked by the panel to investigate claims in an anonymous letter that documents concerning the shuttle's booster rockets -- which are the suspected cause of the Jan. 28 accident -- were destroyed. Subsequently, the panel decided there was no attempt to conceal evidence as copies of the original documents were turned over to the commission.
Soviets' new US envoy was formerly in Madrid
Yuri Dubinin, a former envoy to Spain, was named the Soviet Union's new ambassador to the United States yesterday. He replaces the veteran ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin, who was made a Communist Party Central Committee secretary at the Soviet party congress in March.
South African settlement scene of violence, arson
The reported death toll rose to 16 yesterday from two days of violence at the Crossroads squatter camp near Cape Town. Police and relief workers said more than 800 shacks were burned down and an estimated 10,000 people left homeless by the factional fighting at the settlement. And at the University of Johannesburg, hundreds of students, many of them white, stayed out of class yesterday to protest South Africa's military raids on three black-ruled neighboring countries.
House committee urges Waldheim investigation
The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously yesterday to urge a speedy federal investigation of former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim's alleged Nazi past. The result could bar his entry into the United States. The committee voted 31-0 in favor of the resolution, which was considered under expedited procedures. The bill was sent to the House floor, where a vote was expected later in the day.
US-backed group holding Germans in Nicaragua
The US-backed Nicaraguan Democratic Force said yesterday that its troops are holding eight captured West Germans and are willing to release them, but that the patrol holding them is pinned down under fire. Some 60 Germans who were protesting the kidnapping of their compatriots left the the West German Embassy in Managua Tuesday morning under pressure from the Sandinista government.
West Germany's ambassador to Nicaragua, Josef Rusnak, said he heard from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bonn that the eight were in good health. He indicated the West German government was in contact with high-level diplomats in Honduras and the US.
Pentagon sees trouble in a pact on Nicaragua
The peace treaty now being negotiated by Central American countries with Nicaragua would do little to prevent the Sandinista government from cheating on its provisions and continuing to foment insurgencies against its neighbors, a new Pentagon report concludes. Statements from the White House and State Department, however, indicated the report had little standing in the Reagan administration.
The Pentagon report, released Tuesday, said that if cheating occurred, eventually Nicaragua could not be contained without the introduction of up to 100,000 American troops in the region and massive Navy and Air Force operations to stop Nicaraguan exports of arms.
A resignation given in Aquino's Cabinet
The resignation of Deputy Information Minister Eduardo Zialcita, announced yesterday, was the first such incident in the three-month-old administration of President Corazon Aquino. Mr. Zialcita said he had been involved in a power struggle with Information Minister Teodoro Locsin. In another development yesterday, government television reported that 44 generals and 22 junior officers have been accused by Mrs. Aquino's Commission on Good Government of illegally enriching themselves during the 20-year rule of ousted President Ferdinand Marcos.
Visitors back democracy in Chile, but reins hold
Foreign members of parliament from 12 European and Latin American countries yesterday pledged their support for a return to democracy in Chile. The international conference was dismissed by the military government of August Pinochet as foreign meddling. A source familiar with the situation pointed to Mr. Pinochet's basic tolerance of this criticism as a measure of the strength of his control over the country.
Shiites, guerrillas battle to control guerrilla camp
Shiite Muslim militiamen and Palestinian guerrillas battled for control of the Borj el Barajneh refugee camp in suburban Beirut, killing two people and wounding 33 others, police said yesterday. The camp houses 11,000 Palestinian refugees. And six Lebanese Muslim guards at the US Embassy were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen yesterday near the battlefront dividing Muslim-controlled west and Christian east Beirut, security sources said.
Argentine President visits and bombers strike anew
Police disarmed a bomb in an Army officers club yesterday shortly before Argentine President Ra'ul Alfons'in was to address officers in a building nearby, the official news agency Telam reported. Bombs had exploded last Friday at six district offices of Mr. Alfons'in's Radical Party hours before sentences were announced in the courtmartial of the military junta that led Argentina to defeat in the 1982 Falklands war with Britain.
Weinberger backs push for Austrian defenses
US Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said yesterday he would like to see Austrian defense systems improved. Both Mr. Weinberger and new US Ambassador Ronald Lauder also said they fully respect the alpine state's policy of permanent armed neutrality.
Navratilova is upset in W. German tennis
Steffi Graf, a 16-year-old West German, upset top-seeded Martina Navratilova, 6-2, 6-3, to win the $150,000 West German Women's Open Monday, her fourth straight tournament victory in a row. Ms. Graf will also play in the French Open next Monday.
Voyager's discoveries on Uranus discussed
Miranda, the innermost moon of Uranus, was in the midst of a cataclysmic transformation when it became frozen in time, an event recorded billions of years later by the passing Voyager 2 spacecraft, said scientists speaking on the Voyager findings at this week's spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The spacecraft, now on its way to Neptune for a 1989 rendezvous, also discovered 10 new moons on its Jan. 24 passing of Uranus.