Angry Iranian leaders threatened to cut off cooperation with inspectors from the Inernational Atomic Energy Agency after it voted over the weekend to refer their government to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. Foreign Minister Monouchehr Mottaki called the referral "illegal, illogical, and politically motivated." In Washington, the State Department said the vote was "a significant step forward in the international effort to isolate Iran and ... a significant setback" for its suspected nuclear weapons program. The move attracted 22 "yes" votes among the IAEA's 35 board members, with Russia, China, and 10 other nations abstaining. Mottaki said Iran would "use all diplomatic measures," among them involving "new countries" in negotiations over its nuclear program but would not withdraw from the nonproliferation treaty.

With the OK of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet, Israeli forces were freed to retaliate as they saw fit for the worst surge of rocket attacks by Palestinians since the withdrawal last month from the Gaza Strip. Five Israeli civilians were hurt in a barrage of 38 rockets, the military said. As of Sunday, the retaliatory measures included the destruction of suspected weapons laboratories used by militants, the deaths of two Hamas members in targeted aerial attacks, and the arrest of 207 suspected radicals in the West Bank. Israel also canceled a meeting with senior Palestinians to lay the groundwork for an Oct. 2 summit between Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The violence appeared to start after an explosion Friday at a Hamas rally in a Gaza refugee camp that killed at least 15 Palestinians. Hamas blamed Israel for the blast, but the Palestinian Authority said the militants had mishandled explosives.

A prominent female journalist was in critical condition Sunday after a bomb exploded as she started her car in Jounieh, Lebanon. May Chidiac, a talk-show host for an anti-Syrian TV station, was the latest high- profile figure in Lebanon to be targeted since the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Voters appeared likely to give two right-of-center political parties an easy victory in Poland Sunday in the fifth free parliamentary election since communist rule fell in 1989. Late polls showed the ruling Democratic Left Alliance might not even win 5 percent of the vote needed to participate in the new legislature, as the public registered disgust over four years of failure to curb unemployment and over a series of scandals.

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