For security reasons, the number of UN international staffers in Iraq fell to 50, with no certainty that enough would return to oversee the writing of a new constitution or elections to form a permanent government. Iraqi employees number 4,233, a UN spokesman said, enough to continue humanitarian missions there. Against that backdrop, an aide to interim Governing Council President Ahmed Chalabi said it was unlikely that a new national charter could be written and adopted within six months, as proposed by the Bush administration. The aide cited the need to take into consideration such matters as the role of Islam and relations among the nation's major ethnic and cultural groups.
Saying, "Four weeks is ample time to come up with a full and complete declaration," the UN's atomic watchdog agency chief urged Iran to dispel all suspicions about its nuclear ambitions. Mohamad ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency also said his inspectors need unlimited access to all declared nuclear sites or "unfortunately, I'll have to say that I'm not able to verify" that Iran's program is peaceful. Such an outcome could lead to UN sanctions. Traces of enriched, weapons-grade uranium have been found at two sites in recent weeks, but the government maintains its nuclear facilities are for the production of electricity only. It is under an Oct. 31 IAEA deadline to disclose the extent of its nuclear program but said Monday it would limit further access to the sites by inspectors.
On the 50th anniversary of the military alliance between the US and South Korea, the government of rival North Korea said it saw no benefit in further multilateral talks on its nuclear "deterrent" program, which it was taking "practical measures" to speed up. A round of such discussions that also included China, Russia, Japan, the US, and South Korea ended in late August. A Foreign Ministry statement accused the Bush administration of creating the "false impression" that it wanted a solution to the ongoing confrontation. Meanwhile, in Seoul, the South Korean capital, Ambassador Thomas Hubbard told those attending anniversary ceremonies that US forces would maintain "a robust forward presence" on the peninsula, despite plans for a pullback of American troops from the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South.
A former pro soccer player was ordered to serve 10 years in prison for his admitted role in a plot to explode a car bomb on a US military base in Belgium that's believed to house nuclear warheads. Nizar Trabelsi, a Tunisian, was one of 22 suspected Al Qaeda radicals accused of planning or participating in terrorist attacks. All but five were found guilty and received lesser sentences. Defense lawyers complained that the court in Brussels failed to consider Trabelsi's remorse at trial in pronouncing his sentence.