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November 28, 2008

Iran now has more than 5,000 working centrifuges with which it is enriching uranium, and "suspension ... is not in our vocabulary," its atomic energy chief announced. In fact, Gholamreza Aghazadeh said, the government plans to enlarge its Natanz enrichment facility. Ultimately, the Islamic republic says it intends to have 54,000 operating centrifuges, which produce nuclear fuel for the production of electricity but also can refine it further for use in warheads.

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Thailand's capital was bracing for possible fighting in the streets after supporters of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat vowed a counter-offensive against opposition efforts to force him from office. Somchai rejected a call by Army chief Anupong Paochinda to step down and call a new election to end the deepening political crisis. The anti-Somchai forces already were in control of Bangkok's new airport and said they wouldn't leave until he resigns unconditionally.

Tamil separatist rebels appear to be abandoning their political capital, and Sri Lanka's president is standing by to announce its capture, defense officials said. President Mahinda Rajapakse has vowed that the civil war will end by Dec. 31, but the assault on Kilinochchi by Army and Air Force units had bogged down recently due to monsoon rains. A pro-rebel website has not commented on the most recent government claims, although it released photos earlier this week of fighting around Kilinochchi.

Next week's scheduled summit between China and the European Union is on hold because of plans by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders to meet the Dalai Lama. No new date for the talks has been announced. Sarkozy is due to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dec. 6 at a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners. Tibet's government-in-exile has ended official contact with China.