- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2007

IRAN

Cameras not allowed for nuclear inspection

TEHRAN — A senior Iranian official said yesterday Iran had refused to let U.N. inspectors set up cameras at the underground section of the Natanz complex, where Iran plans to enrich uranium.

He also denied some reports abroad that Iran had begun installing 3,000 centrifuges to step up uranium enrichment.

“It has not started yet,” the official said. Enriched uranium can be used to run power plants or to detonate atomic bombs. The United Nations has slapped sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program for defying demands to stop enriching uranium, a process Tehran insists is aimed only at generating electricity.

IRAQ

Maliki to oust Iranian exiles

BAGHDAD — Iraq says it will expel members of the People’s Mujahedeen, the main Iranian opposition group, in retaliation for the group’s publication of a purported list of Iranian operatives inside Iraq.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Cabinet had demanded that members of the group, also known as the National Council of Resistance, be rapidly transferred to countries other than Iraq or Iran.

“The presence of this organization is illegal and the Cabinet has decided to put an end to it,” he said. The German chapter of the exiled National Council last week published a list of nearly 32,000 Iraqis it said were “agents of the mullahs” employed by Iran to destabilize Iraq.

BRITAIN

Title-selling scandal won’t force out Blair

LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair, questioned twice in an investigation into whether political honors such as knighthoods were traded for cash, insisted yesterday he would not let the inquiry force him from office.

Mr. Blair has said he will step down by September, but the scandal has prompted opposition calls for him to go now, and one of his Cabinet ministers said the affair was “eroding trust.”

Police are investigating accusations that honors — including seats in the House of Lords and knighthoods — were given to individuals who loaned money to Mr. Blair’s Labor Party or the main opposition Conservatives.

DENMARK

Angry imam dead from cancer

COPENHAGEN — Palestinian imam Ahmed Abu Laban, Denmark’s charismatic Islamic cleric who helped stir up a global dispute over Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, was buried yesterday.

Mr. Abu Laban, 60, whose death from cancer was announced on Thursday, headed the Danish Islamic Community, considered by Danes as one of the most radical Muslim associations in the country.

Mr. Abu Laban was seen by Danish press and politicians as a possible instigator of the controversy that erupted early last year over the Jyllands-Posten newspaper’s publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

PHILIPPINES

Muslim rebels spring colleagues from prison

MANILA — Muslim rebels stormed a jail in the southern Philippines early yesterday with grenades and rockets, blasted a hole in its wall and helped 46 prisoners escape, authorities said.

Some of those who escaped were men arrested for bomb blasts in the volatile Mindanao region of the south, where at least four Islamic separatist groups operate.

Philippine security officials said a rogue faction within the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim separatist group in the largely Catholic Philippines, was behind the attack.

SUDAN

China presses for Darfur deal

KHARTOUM — Chinese President Hu Jintao urged Sudan’s leader, Omar al-Bashir, yesterday to work harder to bring more Darfur rebels into the peace process, a Sudanese official told the Associated Press.

Mr. Hu raised the issue at a closed-door meeting during the Chinese leader’s landmark visit, the first by a Chinese president. Mr. Hu’s two-day visit comes amid high expectations that China would push its longtime ally to better cooperate with the United Nations in solving the Darfur crisis.

China is the biggest foreign investor in Sudan and buys two-thirds of the country’s oil exports. It has used its veto-wielding status at the U.N. Security Council to prevent harsh measures against Sudan regarding the Darfur conflict.

FRANCE

Art thieves turn to gold

PARIS — Thieves have stolen a 26-pound bar of gold from an art installation by a U.S. artist in Paris, the Fondation Cartier art center said yesterday.

The bar, which was placed in a large basin filled with black oil in the art work by Gary Hill, was stolen overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, a spokeswoman for the arts center said.

A 26-pound bar currently is worth about $245,000.

TANZANIA

Veils banned for women drivers

ZANZIBAR — Police in largely Muslim Zanzibar have banned women from driving while veiled, arguing it impairs their vision and has caused some accidents, an official said yesterday.

Women who violate the ban, imposed Thursday, will be fined, said Regional Police Commander Bakati Khatib. He did not say how much.

“We have evidence showing some accidents were caused by women drivers wearing the nikab,” which some Muslim women wear over their face, Mr. Khatib said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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