Iran now has more than 5,000 working centrifuges with which it is enriching uranium, and "suspension ... is not in our vocabulary," its atomic energy chief announced. In fact, Gholamreza Aghazadeh said, the government plans to enlarge its Natanz enrichment facility. Ultimately, the Islamic republic says it intends to have 54,000 operating centrifuges, which produce nuclear fuel for the production of electricity but also can refine it further for use in warheads.

Thailand's capital was bracing for possible fighting in the streets after supporters of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat vowed a counter-offensive against opposition efforts to force him from office. Somchai rejected a call by Army chief Anupong Paochinda to step down and call a new election to end the deepening political crisis. The anti-Somchai forces already were in control of Bangkok's new airport and said they wouldn't leave until he resigns unconditionally.

Tamil separatist rebels appear to be abandoning their political capital, and Sri Lanka's president is standing by to announce its capture, defense officials said. President Mahinda Rajapakse has vowed that the civil war will end by Dec. 31, but the assault on Kilinochchi by Army and Air Force units had bogged down recently due to monsoon rains. A pro-rebel website has not commented on the most recent government claims, although it released photos earlier this week of fighting around Kilinochchi.

Next week's scheduled summit between China and the European Union is on hold because of plans by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders to meet the Dalai Lama. No new date for the talks has been announced. Sarkozy is due to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dec. 6 at a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners. Tibet's government-in-exile has ended official contact with China.

Seeking to avoid another winter of confrontation over the supply of Russian natural gas, Ukraine's state energy company said it will meet a Monday deadline to pay for deliveries received in September. NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy owes $1.26 billion, although most of that applies to October deliveries. Relations between Ukraine and Russia are tense, and the latter briefly cut off the gas flow early in 2005 and threatened to do so again in succeeding winters.

A fourth attempt by political opponents to impeach Philippines President Gloria Arroyo in four years appears headed for defeat when the full House of Representatives votes on it next week. Her allies hold an overwhelming majority in the House, whose Justice Committee voted 42-to-8 Wednesday to dismiss the latest bid on a technicality. She has served longer than any other Philippines chief executive since Ferdinand Marcos was driven into exile in 1989.

Skeptics questioned whether rebel leader Joseph Kony would keep his promise to sign a final peace accord with Uganda's government Saturday, the deadline set by mediators. Kony repeatedly has snubbed the peace process aimed at ending more than 20 years of insurgency that have killed or displaced an estimated 2 million people. Most notably, he failed to show up last April for the signing ceremony. Warrants for his arrest on war crimes charges have been issued by the International Criminal Court, and he has demanded that they be lifted in exchange for his signature.

Only the OK of Greenland's parliament remains necessary for the huge island to assume control of its own affairs after voters overwhelmingly approved an autonomy referendum earlier this week. It was held with the encouragement of Denmark, whose $588 million-a-year subsidy accounts for one-third of the economy. If, as expected, the legislators affirm the vote, the change will take effect June 21.

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