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.
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.
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.
Iran had banned street protests to mark the anniversary of July 9, 1999, raid by police and hard-line vigilantes on a Tehran University dormitory that killed one person and injured at least 20.
BBC fined for faking winner
LONDON — A children"s television show on the British Broadcasting Corp. faked the results of a contest, drawing a $100,000 fine yesterday from a regulatory agency.
In imposing its first fine on the BBC, the Office of Communications said the broadcaster broke the rules by using a studio guest to pose as the winner of a phone-in competition on the "Blue Peter" show on Nov. 27.
The show used the guest after a technical problem made it impossible for viewers to call the show.
Taliban leader killed in nighttime raid
KABUL — U.S.-led coalition and Afghan troops conducting a nighttime raid killed a Taliban leader yesterday but two children were caught in the crossfire, a U.S. spokesman said.
In the south, Taliban fighters ambushed a police patrol over the weekend, and the subsequent battle left six police officers and 12 militants dead, said Kandahar provincial police Chief Sayed Agha Saqib.
During the raid of the home in eastern Paktia province, militants fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at the coalition and Afghan troops, forcing troops to return fire. Two children were killed in the exchange, said Maj. Donald Korpi, a U.S. coalition spokesman.
Church"s leaders sent to labor camp
SHANGHAI — Two ministers in China"s unrecognized Protestant church have been sentenced to one year each in a labor camp on charges of using an "evil cult" to obstruct the law, a U.S. monitoring group said yesterday.
The two men were detained on June 15 along with four other church leaders during a worship service in eastern Shandong province, just south of Beijing, said the China Aid Association, based in Midland, Texas.
The group said Zhang Geming and Sun Qingwen were sentenced on June 29 to "re-education through labor," an extrajudicial punishment that avoids a trial.
From wire dispatches and staff reports