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NORTH KOREA

U.N. watchdog OKs nuclear mission

VIENNA, Austria — The U.N. nuclear watchdog”s governing body agreed yesterday to send monitors to North Korea to verify a shutdown of its atomic bomb program, beginning what is likely to be a long and arduous disarmament process.

A nine-member team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to travel to North Korea within the next 10 days to re-establish international monitoring.

The IAEA was kicked out in December 2002 as Pyongyang moved to restart is Yongbyon plutonium-producing nuclear reactor and resume weapons work.

Clearance for IAEA monitors to fly into North Korea was expected once Pyongyang receives a first batch of fuel oil later this week, pledged as part of its February disarmament accord with the United States and four other powers.

GAZA STRIP

U.N. suspends building projects

GAZA CITY — The United Nations suspended construction of homes, schools and an emergency sewage system in the Gaza Strip yesterday, blaming a shortage of building materials on Israel”s import cutoff.

The move, which threatens the jobs of 121,000 Palestinians, is the latest hardship facing the poverty-stricken territory buffeted by infighting, ruled by Islamic militants and tightly controlled by Israel.

John Ging, director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said that a “huge number” of houses in refugee camps were damaged during months of clashes between Hamas and rival Fatah forces and that his agency can”t repair them because it lacks building supplies. Israel is allowing only food and medical supplies to be imported to Gaza.

IRAN

Police disrupt democracy protest

TEHRAN — Iranian police and plainclothes security agents broke up a sit-in marking yesterday”s anniversary of a bloody raid on a Tehran university dormitory, then stormed the offices of the country”s main pro-democracy student group, student leaders said.

Fifteen students and a mother were beaten and detained, they said. There was no confirmation by the government, which rarely comments on such arrests.

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