Senior Iranians added another warning Monday to those of recent weeks concerning their nation's nuclear program. Any preemptive military strike against it by the US would be "too dangerous," ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani claimed, because Iran's Arab neighbors would provide no assistance. An attack on Iran, he said, would "engulf" not only the Islamic republic but also "the region and everybody." Rafsanjani said Iran "does not intend to stop" enriching uranium that could be used as fuel for nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Iran's government has intensified efforts to buy military technology illegally from the US. Citing customs officials, the Post said the efforts have been in the areas of sophisticated night- vision equipment, unmanned aircraft, missile systems, and weapons of mass destruction.
Another postponement was announced in the next meeting of Iraq's parliament Monday as Shiites and Sunnis squabbled over who will hold the key posts of speaker and prime minister. The legislature has met only once since the election of last Dec. 15. Sunnis as well as Kurds oppose a second term for beleaguered Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Shiites, in turn, are withholding support for the Sunni candidate to head parliament. Elsewhere, the war-crimes trial of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein was adjourned until Wednesday after handwriting experts authenticated his signature on documents related to the crackdown in the 1980s against Shiites.
Anxious residents and emergency crews watched for the Danube River and its tributaries to crest in Romania Monday or perhaps Tuesday amid the worst flooding there in more than a century. Hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland were submerged on purpose to try to ease the pressure on dikes, but one collapsed anyway in southern Romania Sunday, requiring the evacuation of more than 500 residents. Along much of its 1,776-mile length, the Danube is flowing at more than twice its normal volume for April, fed by rainfall and heavy snowmelt.
More roadside mines exploded Monday in northern Sri Lanka, killing or wounding 16 government soldiers and pushing hopes for a resumption of peace talks with Tamil rebels further into the future. The latest casualties brought to 64 the number of people who have died in the latest surge of violence related to the Tamil campaign for an autonomous homeland. News that the Tamils were refusing to attend the new talks sent the index on Sri Lanka's stock exchange down by almost 5 percent Monday, its first trading session since last week's New Year celebrations.
In an about-face, the president of Chad dropped his threat to force 200,000 refugees from neighboring Sudan back across the border. Idriss Deby also extended until April 30 his deadline for halting oil exports unless Chad is paid $125 million in royalties frozen by the World Bank because of a new law changing the way such revenues may be spent. The bank, which helps to fund Chad's oil industry, had asked that the law not be amended. Deby says the cash is needed to address security concerns. He accuses Chad's rebel movement of recruiting refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan to help undermine the May 3 election in which he seeks a new term.
Only about 50 Catholics turned out in rainy Belfast to protest the first parades of Northern Ireland's annual Protestant marching season. The processions past the city's Ardoyne and Short Strand districts attracted tight security because of violent reactions there in past years. But no serious incidents were reported Monday.