Engineers conducted the first test of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant Wednesday and assured the government there would be no problem with switching on its reactor, reports said. At the same time, the chief of the Atomic Power Organization boasted that Iran now has 6,000 operating centrifuges to enrich uranium and intends to increase the number to 50,000 over the next five years. Bushehr will run on enriched uranium, which worries the US and other Western governments because the spent fuel then could be refined into plutonium for nuclear warheads.Skip to next paragraph
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Political tensions rose to new heights in Pakistan after the Supreme Court upheld a ban on opposition leader Nawaz Sharif from elective office. The justices also voted to nullify last year's election of his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, as chief minister of Punjab, the nation's most populous province. Nawaz Sharif, who has been feuding for months with President Asif Ali Zardari, called on his supporters to protest in the streets. The rulings also triggered a 5 percent drop in Pakistan's main stock index, its most precipitous in more than 2-1/2 years.
Eighteen more deaths were reported in Somalia's capital as Islamist militiamen fought with local police and African Union peacekeepers, bringing the three-day total to 81. Ninety others have been wounded in the worst violence there in months. Elsewhere, hard-line Al Shabaab fighters seized a town near the border with Ethiopia, overpowering soldiers loyal to the unity government that new President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is attempting to establish.