"Thorough preparations" are under way to restart North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the Foreign Ministry announced over the weekend. The plant, which produces weapons-grade plutonium, was being dismantled under the disarmament-for-aid agreement with five negotiating partners. But the North complains that the US hasn't removed it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, thus failing on its end of the deal.
Israelis were expected to wake up to a changed political order after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he'd resign Sunday night. Olmert would remain in his post as caretaker until his likely successor, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, can form a new government. Reports said Livni already was meeting with prospective coalition partners.
Saying it was heeding the appeals of tribal elders and political leaders in Nigeria's oil-producing region, the leading militant group there announced an immediate new cease-fire. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta broke its previous truce Sept. 14 and declared an "oil war" in retaliation for an attack on one of its bases by Army troops. Over the past week, it claimed successful raids on pipelines, pumping stations, and soldiers guarding them. It said the new truce would last as long as it wasn't attacked again.
A large volume of helium has leaked into the tunnel holding the world's largest atom-smasher, putting it out of commission for at least two months, its operators said Saturday. The Large Hadron Collider deep under the French-Swiss border became headline news Sept. 10 when it successfully conducted its first two tests. The accident was the second to idle it since then.
Ten people were hurt and a police station was heavily damaged Sunday as suspected Basque separatists exploded powerful bombs in two cities in northern Spain. The first, outside a bank in the regional capital, Vitoria, followed a telephoned warning purportedly from the separatist organization ETA. No warning preceded the second blast, which targeted the police station in Ondarroa. The attacks came three days after a pro-independence Basque political party was banned for having ties to ETA.
Adding to China's tainted-milk scandal woes, a nightclub fire and two coal mining accidents killed at least 93 people and injured more than 80 others Saturday. The fire erupted in a three-story establishment popular with young people in Shenzen, near the border with Hong Kong, when burning Roman candles ignited ceiling tiles. As many as 1,000 panicked clubgoers stampeded for the exit. The mining accidents took place in Henan and Heilongjiang provinces and were the fourth and fifth to be reported this month.
A new threat arose Sunday to the fledgling unity government in Belgium – the withdrawal of Prime Minister Yves Leterme's Flemish coalition partner. The N-VA Party said it no longer could support him because it had lost confidence in his ability to find a solution to the thorny issue of devolving powers to the nation's French- and Dutch-speaking regions. Leaders from both sides had been expected to resume negotiations next month on dividing powers.
Assets of the Italian national airline, Alitalia, were expected to be put up for auction as soon as Monday, reports said. Barring an unforeseen new rescue offer for the bankrupt carrier, the civil aviation authority said its planes will be grounded within 10 days. Negotiations between a consortium of potential buyers and unions representing Alitalia employees broke down last week, although the umbrella Confederation of Labor argued that the government has a duty to broker a deal.