A modified SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile blasted off from the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan Dec. 20 without the knowledge of the government, it has been learned, igniting a dispute about who really controls the former Soviet nuclear arsenal.... Belarus and China have set up diplomatic links after the first visit to Beijing by a leader from the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States.... A baby girl and a young boy were among nine people believed to have survived when a French Airbu s with 96 people on board crashed into mountains in eastern France Jan. 20. MIDDLE EAST AND GULF
Israel engaged in a massive building campaign throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip last year, more than tripling the number of housing units built in Jewish settlements in 1990. The United States had asked the Israeli Finance Ministry for the figures in light of Israel's request for $10 billion in loan guarantees to help settle Jewish immigrants. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and two senior Cabinet ministers vowed Jan. 20 to continue settling occupied Arab lands.... Iran, building on the new friendship with regional rival Saudi Arabia, has named an ambassador to the kingdom, Tehran Radio reported Jan. 21.... Lebanon's Muslim guerrilla chiefs have decided to set up a joint operations room for stepping up attacks against Israel, it was announced Jan. 21, putting another stumbling block in the way of the US-sponsored peace process. UNITED STATES
More than 500 people headed to federal court in Brooklyn Jan. 21 to begin the long, complicated process of picking a jury for the racketeering trial of John Gotti, reputed to be the nation's top mobster. Then, the trial could take up to three months.... The Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins arrived in Minneapolis Jan. 20 to prepare for the week-long blend of interviews, photo opportunities, and football that leads up to Super Bowl XXVI on Jan. 26. LATIN AMERICA AND ASIA
Argentina is willing to receive about 100,000 ethnic Russian immigrants from the newly independent Baltic states over the next two or three years, Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella said.... Cuba Jan. 20 executed a right-wing Cuban exile from Miami who had been caught in the country with arms and explosives, and two of his accomplices were given 30-year prison terms.... At UN headquarters, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali plans to ask the General Assembly to give an initial $200 million to begin sett ing up a UN peace operation in Cambodia, according to a letter circulated to Security Council members Jan. 20.... Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said the plan announced during President Bush's Tokyo visit this month for Japan to increase its imports of US cars and car parts was merely a target, not a promise.