A new round of negotiations is needed "to reach a broad agreement" on Iran's nuclear program, the deputy chief of its Atomic Energy Organization said Thursday after a UN watchdog agency confirmed that enrichment of uranium has grown rather than stopped. The confirmation, while expected, is nonetheless significant because it can serve as the trigger for new economic sanctions to be imposed by the UN Security Council. The report by Mohamad ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency also says Iran has failed to comply with a UN order to provide access to its nuclear facilities by international inspectors.
Muslim insurgents have infiltrated "various universities" in Bangkok, putting the city at risk of the types of terrorist attacks seen in southern Thailand, the nation's defense minister warned. Gen. Boonrawd Somtate told parliament Thursday, "We have learned [that] they conceal themselves in the uniforms of students." Despite several previous warnings of such attacks in the capital, none has been confirmed. But a major Buddhist holiday, Makha Bucha, falls on March 3, and Boonrawd said the armed forces have been ordered to "take the utmost precaution." Almost daily attacks by Muslim separatists in southern provinces have killed more than 2,000 people since early 2004.
For "insulting" President Hosni Mubarak and Islam, a court in Egypt sentenced Internet blogger Abdel Kareem Suleiman to four years in prison. He has admitted writing essays that compared Mubarak to dictatorial pharaohs of ancient Egypt and that accused Muslims of savagery in clashes with Christians two years ago. His trial was unprecedented in the Arab world's most populous country, where blogging has become an important outlet for criticism of the government because the primary news media are state-run. The law school where Suleiman was a student expelled him last year for his postings and urged that he be prosecuted.
Members of parliament in Ukraine dealt another heavy blow to embattled President Viktor Yushchenko Thursday, decisively rejecting his nominees for foreign minister and chief of the security service. The defeats were the latest in a series that has hobbled him since he won office in the Orange Revolution of 2004. But his government soon fell apart and last year his party lost the legislature to bitter rival Viktor Yanukovych, now the prime minister.
At least 16 people died and dozens more were missing after a crowded ferry caught fire at sea 50 miles off Jakarta, Indo-nesia, Thursday. Reports said panicked passengers – some with babies in their arms – dived into the water without life vests to escape the flames and smoke. A rescue operation that involved warships, cargo ships, fishing boats, a tug, and helicopters rescued about 275 people. Late last December, more than 400 people died when another Indonesian ferry sank in a storm.
Nobel Peace Prizewinner Rigoberta Menchu announced her candidacy for president of Guatemala. Menchu has led a campaign aimed at bringing the nation's former military rulers to trial for abuses against the majority indigenous population during 36 years of civil war. She won the prize in 1992 "in recognition of her work for social justice." If she is elected in September, she would be Guatemala's first female and Indian chief of state.
A cyclone with top winds of 125 m.p.h. dumped heavy new rains on Mozambique Thursday, adding to the woes of hundreds of thousands of people already coping with severe flooding. A second cyclone tracking toward the same area is predicted to make landfall early Friday.
Sponsors of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the world's most prestigious, bowed to pressure Thursday and agreed to equalize prize money for women and men. The 2006 men's singles champion, Roger Federer, won $1.17 million compared with $1.12 million for women's singles winner Amelie Mauresmo. The other major pro tournaments pay the same prize money to both genders. This year's Wimbledon tournament is scheduled for June 25-July 8.