Under UN supervision, Iranian technicians broke the seals at a uranium processing plant, another step in what could be the building of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency canceled a board meeting Wednesday at which members might have discussed whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. IAEA chief Mohamad ElBaradei said he hoped the resumption of uranium processing was "simply a hiccup" and that "any escalation of the situation" could be avoided.

Israeli defense forces completed their final dress rehearsal for next week's withdrawal of settlers from the Gaza Strip, and residents of two affected communities were handing in their guns in a bid to prevent violence during it. The Defense Ministry said Israeli and Palestinian officials had agreed on what to do with the rubble from settlements to be demolished as the residents evacuate. Some of it will be used in construction of a seaport once Gaza reverts to Palestinian control.

"No, sir, I do not want to meet you," Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was quoted as saying after the African Union appointed a mediator to try to persuade him to hold talks with his leading political opponents. The naming of ex-Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano came amid the worsening situation in Zimbabwe, which has triple-digit inflation and 70 percent unemployment. Zimbabwe has asked for $1 billion in financial help from neighboring South Africa - but without strings attached. South Africa agreed in principle to a loan to prevent Zimbabwe's expulsion from the International Monetary Fund but has demanded that Mugabe give the opposition Movement for Democratic Change a meaningful role in his nation's affairs.

Air quality in the capital of Malaysia was rated as "very unhealthy" and "getting worse" because of a thick haze from forest fires burning in neighboring Indonesia. Schools in Kuala Lumpur were closed and hospitals reported a rapid rise in cases of breathing and vision complaints because of the problem, the worst since similar conditions persisted in 1997 and 1998. Environment Minister Adenan Satem said he'd go to Indonesia to discuss the situation with officials there.

The owner and manager of a flooded coal mine and nine other people were arrested by authorities in southern China for failing to report the problem and fleeing the scene. The official Xinhua news agency said hopes for rescuing any of the 123 miners trapped by the flooding were low. The mine is not licensed. At least 2,700 miners in China have died in accidents so far this year.

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