Work on enriching uranium has resumed at Iran's Natanz nuclear plant, diplomats said. But an analyst for the environmental activist group Greenpeace maintained that the activity would involve only testing of some centrifuges, a considerable way from producing fuel that could be used in a nuclear warhead. Iran had warned it would resume the work if referred to the UN Security Council for the possible imposition of diplomatic or economic sanctions. A spokesman for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also announced the indefinite postponement of talks in Moscow with Russian officials on the latter's proposal to enrich the uranium.Skip to next paragraph
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Hamas was under pressure on two fronts Monday as its leaders savored an invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin to pay an official visit to Moscow. In their final act before yielding control of the Palestinian parliament to Hamas, legislators from President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party voted to give him sole authority to appoint judges. The move, which angry Hamas colleagues vowed to "cancel," means that a Palestinian Constitutional Court stacked by Abbas could overturn laws passed by the Hamas-controlled legislature. Meanwhile, Israeli officials were circulating a pamphlet aimed at influencing Russian public opinion against Putin's overtures to Hamas, the Jerusalem Post reported. It said the document enumerates "posters, CDs, and movies ... found in Hamas offices" that openly support "Chechen separatists and their terrorist tactics." The materials also describe Russian military actions in Chechnya as "terrorist," the Post said, adding that they have been distributed in two universities and an asylum for orphans in the Palestinian territories.
Saddam Hussein and a codefendant staged another outburst in their war-crimes trial Monday, and two witnesses for the prosecution complained that they were being forced to testify - eliciting pleased smiles from the ousted Iraqi dictator. For much of the session, Hussein's half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim, defied the judge's order and sat on the floor with his back to the bench in a show of defiance.
A week before the start of new talks with Tamil separatist rebels, Sri Lanka's president ruled out all demands for an autonomous homeland. But Mahinda Rajapakse told Reuters he would meet a rebel demand that armed paramilitary groups "be brought under control" if they "operate in our area." Representatives of his government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are due to meet next Wednesday in Geneva to discuss how their shaky two-year-old truce can better be implemented. The talks are seen as a last-ditch opportunity to avoid a return to open civil war. Almost 200 people have been killed in the past two months in escalating violence between the two sides. Rajapakse said Tamils "can share power," but must "give up the concept of having two nations or countries," although "they can have a police force, yes."
Shots were fired at the motorcade carrying Uganda's president last weekend, but he escaped harm, reports said Monday. Yoweri Museveni was campaigning for reelection in the restive northeastern section of the nation when the convoy came under attack by unidentified men Saturday night. Guards dispersed the attackers and no one was hurt, the reports said. A presidential spokesman said the motive may have been robbery rather than an assassination attempt. Ugandans go to the polls next week for the first election involving multiple political parties since Museveni came to power in 1987.
Births of twins and even triplets are booming in China despite the longstanding ban on multi-child families, an official newspaper reported Monday. The China Daily said a pediatric hospital in the city of Nanjing alone recorded 90 such cases last year, up from the previous average of 20. It said women increasingly are turning to readily available imported fertility treatments because they want more babies per delivery. The treatments are illegal, but enforcement of the ban is rare, the newspaper said. The one-child-per-family limit was imposed in the 1970s as China's population was approaching 1 billion - and was harshly enforced at first. But the 1 billion threshold has long since been crossed, and there are no penalties for multiple births, the China Daily said.