An international chorus of condemnation descended on Iran's government Wednesday after its president announced the successful enrichment of uranium and said the process now would escalate to industrial scale. The US, the European Union, and - notably - Russia said Iran was moving in the "wrong direction," although they stressed a preference for a diplomatic end to the confrontation. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei is due in Iran Thursday to discuss compliance with UN demands that nuclear activity stop. But a senior Iranian official compared it to "a waterfall, which has begun to flow [and] cannot be stopped."
Acting quickly, members of France's lower house of parliament approved a compromise to the youth-employment act that triggered protests across the nation. President Jacques Chirac announced Monday that his government would rescind the controversial measure. The new legislation, written after consultation with union leaders, calls for training programs and internships for disadvantaged young people. The upper house, however, may not consider it until next month because of parliament's spring break.
The number of deaths from the bombing of a Sunni Muslim worship service Tuesday in Karachi, Pakistan, rose to 57, and police closed roads and schools there as furious coreligionists rioted in protest. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims there have long been high. Some Sunni leaders gave authorities 48 hours to arrest the culprits. Otherwise, they said, "We are able to call on Sunni[s] to respond in various ways."
A curfew was imposed in the Sri Lanka port city of Trincomalee after two bombs exploded Wednesday, killing 11 more people and sending angry residents into the streets in a rampage against minority Tamils and their businesses. Suspicion fell on Tamil separatist rebels for the blasts, as well as for those Monday and Tuesday that killed a combined 20 in or near the city - most of them military personnel. The attacks have raised speculation that peace talks scheduled for next week between the rebels and the government will be canceled. But in a news briefing Wednesday, a government spokesman said his side will attend.
The daytime curfew in the capital of Nepal was lifted Wednesday. But police stopped at least six efforts by democracy advocates to gather for political rallies and 29 journalists were arrested for protesting the government's crackdown on news coverage of the turmoil. An order to stay off the streets of another city was issued, however, after protesters clashed with police. One protester was shot dead and five were wounded in Nawalparasi, near the border with India.
The discovery in a Rome trash bin of at least five boxes containing completed election ballots appeared to give Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi new ammunition for his demand that last weekend's votes be recounted. Berlusconi is challenging the outcome of the election in which rival Romano Prodi claimed victory by about 25,000 votes out of 38 million cast. Prodi, however, said Wednesday that he had the necessary majority to govern and would begin choosing the members of his cabinet in the next few days.
A massive shipment of cocaine worth an estimated $100 million was seized by police in eastern Mexico Tuesday, the nation's Defense Department announced. It said 5-1/2 tons of the narcotic was aboard a cargo flight from Venezuela. The co-pilot and two men from another plane, who apparently were planning to fly the cocaine to its next destination, were arrested. Venezuela has become a key corridor for narcotics shipments, according to a State Department report last month, especially since leftist President Hugo Chávez halted cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration.