As it pledged to do, Iran's government directed that the seals on some nuclear research facilities be removed Tuesday, bringing a chorus of objection from world leaders. In Washington, the Bush administration said the move left only one option: to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for the possible imposition of sanctions. Russia's Interfax news agency reported that the Kremlin wants a new moratorium on the enrichment of uranium by the Iranians. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamad ElBara-dei told journalists: "I'm running out of patience." Germany's foreign minister said Iran had "crossed lines which it knew would not [be] without consequences." The deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohamad Saeedi confirmed the removal of the seals at a news conference in Tehran but said the resumption of nuclear activity would be under IAEA supervision.

Alarm over the potential for a bird flu pandemic rose still further amid reports from Turkey, Japan, and China of new cases among humans. Concern also deepened in the Western Hemisphere as Trinidad's Health Ministry pledged an investigation into the unexplained deaths of about 2,000 chickens there, although its director said, "I don't think it's bird flu." In Russia, President Vladimir Putin called on senior officials to "do everything possible not to allow this problem to emerge here." Turkey's Agriculture Ministry said 306,000 fowl have been destroyed as a preventive measure, although a new case - the 15th so far - was reported in a hospital patient. Japanese authorities said 77 people, most of them poultry farm employees, appear to have been infected with a milder strain of the virus.

Arabs in eastern Jerusalem will not be prevented from voting in the Jan. 25 Palestinian parliamentary election after all, Israel's defense minister said. Other senior officials, however, described the announcement as only a proposal, and a leading Palestinian said he hadn't been notified of it. But if confirmed, analysts said the announcement appears to be a retreat from an earlier threat to block voting there because of the candidacies of members of Hamas. It also removes a major obstacle to the election taking place on schedule, they said. Israel gave its OK Monday to campaigning in Jeru-salem by Palestinian candidates.

By a 250-to-50 vote, the parliament of Ukraine fired Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov and his cabinet over last week's controversial agreement to buy natural gas from neighboring Russia at almost double the previous price. But the measure also requires the cabinet to stay in place until a new one can be appointed. The move came amid bitter complaints by opposition leaders that the deal is too costly for Ukrainian industries and private consumers and endangers the nation's energy security. Yekhanurov dismissed the vote as nonbinding and defended the gas deal as necessary to keep Ukraine from being deprived of vital fuel supplies.

Another new opinion poll gave the opposition Conservatives a 12-point lead over Canada's minority Liberal Party government as the nation's political leaders faced off in their second televised debate Tuesday. The Toronto Star survey put support for the Conservatives at 39.1 percent - two points higher than a poll published Monday by the rival Toronto Globe and Mail. Canadians are scheduled to elect a new government in less than two weeks. The opening debate Monday night was widely seen as a draw between Prime Minister Paul Martin and Conservative leader Stephen Harper. The Globe and Mail said Tuesday that aides to some Liberals in Parliament already are quietly searching for new jobs and cited one as saying the party, which has ruled for the past 12 years, needs to lose the election if it is to rebuild effectively.

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