If UN Security Council members think they can threaten Iran, "they are badly mistaken," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, rejecting a new resolution that gives his government until month's end to halt the enrichment of uranium. Resolution 1696, which is binding, was approved Monday by a 14-to-1 vote. It does not, however, make economic and diplomatic sanctions automatic if not obeyed; they'd have to be agreed at later Security Council meetings. In a speech Tuesday, Ahmadinejad said Iran will continue to pursue its nuclear program.
In a new blow to the already weak transitional government of Somalia, four more of its members resigned Tuesday, citing "the lack of a clear policy." Eighteen others quit last week, and Prime Minister Mohamad Ali Gedi narrowly survived a vote of no confidence in parliament Saturday. He is under fire for a perceived failure to reach a settlement with the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), whose militia has seized control of the capital and much of the rest of southern Somalia. The government told residents of Baidoa, its base, to surrender all weapons within a week, although it was unclear how the order would be enforced if they don't comply. Meanwhile, the UIC expanded its power further, announcing establishment of a new sharia court in a district 370 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu.
Exploding bombs killed at least 58 more Iraqis Tuesday, almost half of them soldiers. The embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said it would transfer army brigades to Baghdad from other regions to try to gain control of the spiraling violence. The US also has announced plans to increase its troop levels in the capital. Twenty-three of Tuesday's victims were soldiers being ferried by bus from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul. It was destroyed by a roadside bomb. Fourteen other soldiers died in a blast in the capital as they waited at a bank to collect their pay.
Suspected Muslim separatists bombed or set fire to at least 40 government facilities across southern Thailand Tuesday in what appeared to be coordinated attacks. Early reports said three people were hurt, although little other information was available. More than 1,500 people have died since Islamists began a campaign of violence in Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat provinces in January 2004.
Crucial negotiations were under way Tuesday in Ukraine between President Viktor Yushchenko and bitter rival Viktor Yanuko-vych on the formation of a coalition government to end the nation's almost five-month-old political crisis. Analysts said they expected Yushchenko to press for a commitment from the pro-Russian Yanukovych to seek membership for Ukraine in the European Union and NATO in return for being nominated as prime minister. Yushchenko raised the stakes by beginning the process of dissolving parliament to force a new election. Leaders of Yanukovych's Party of the Regions countered by threatening Yushchenko with impeachment.
Saying, "Our currency is in trouble," the chief of Zimbabwe's central bank announced sweeping changes that will be effective immediately. Most notable is the removal of three zeroes from all banknotes, which are not legal tender but nonetheless are used as money. Zimbabweans were given 21 days to exchange the bills for the new series. With inflation at 1,184 percent, the bank said the change will ease the inconvenience for people who carry thick wads of paper and for computer systems that struggle with accounts containing long strings of zeroes. The bank also cut interest rates by 550 percent for both secured and unsecured loans. Critics called the moves "cosmetic."
An inventory of the art treasures in Russia's world-famous Hermitage museum discovered 221 missing pieces worth $5 million, its director reported. The items – mostly jewelry and enamelware – could not have been stolen "without the involvement of staff," he said. The curator in charge of most of the collection died suddenly as the inventory began last fall, although it was not clear whether her passing was related. The Hermitage, in St. Petersburg, houses 3 million pieces, although only its exhibited works are insured. The state-owned museum spends less than $1 million a year on security.