- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

AUSTRIA

Iran blocks probe of nuclear past

VIENNA | Iran has steadfastly blocked a U.N. investigation into allegations it tried to make nuclear arms, and the probe is now deadlocked, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday.

The conclusion was contained in an IAEA report released Monday to the 35-nation IAEA board and the U.N. Security Council, which has already imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear defiance.

The document said Iran has now amassed a third of the amount of enriched uranium it could reprocess into the material for the fissile core of a nuclear weapon.

The United States and its allies say Iran wants to develop its uranium-enrichment program to make nuclear weapons. But oil-rich Iran insists it only wants to make nuclear fuel and that IAEA oversight and inspections of its known enrichment program has not come up with any evidence that contradicts that.

In Washington, the White House threatened more sanctions if Iran continues to defy the U.N.

AFGHANISTAN

Terrorism suspect’s young son freed

KABUL | An al Qaeda suspect’s 12-year-old son, who was taken into custody with his mother and held for two months, was handed over to Pakistan on Monday to be returned to his relatives there.

The boy’s mother, Aafia Siddiqui, was detained outside the governor’s house in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province in July on suspicion of links to al Qaeda and taken to the U.S. military base there. The Pakistani-American citizen was then flown to New York to face charges of assault on U.S. personnel in Ghazni.

The U.S. indictment purports that during Siddiqui’s interrogation in Ghazni, she picked up a soldier’s rifle, announced her “desire to kill Americans” and fired at U.S. soldiers and FBI agents. She was wounded by return fire.

Her son, Ali Hassan, also a dual American-Pakistani national, was with his mother at the time of her arrest and has been in Afghan custody ever since.

SUDAN

Thousands flee fighting in Darfur

KHARTOUM | Thousands of villagers have been forced to flee their homes after more than a week of heavy clashes between Sudanese forces and rebels in North Darfur, aid sources said on Monday.

Entire villages have been abandoned after residents took shelter in surrounding mountains and open land, cut off from food aid and clinics, humanitarian officers said.

The fighting has further undermined hopes for peace at a time the government is trying to challenge an attempt by the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to try President Omar Bashir for war crimes in the western region.

A U.N. investigator said on Monday that the human rights situation was grim in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan.

Darfur rebel groups said Sudanese soldiers and allied militias launched a string of heavy ground and air attacks on their positions in North Darfur throughout last week and over the weekend. One rebel leader said fighting continued Monday.

A spokesman for Sudan’s armed forces last week said soldiers had entered some of the areas mentioned by the rebels.

AUSTRALIA

More suspects guilty in terrorism trial

MELBOURNE | A jury Monday convicted a Muslim cleric and five of his followers of forming a terrorist group in Australia that reportedly considered assassinating the prime minister and attacking major sporting events.

Four other men were found not guilty of being members of the group, and the jury was still deliberating on charges against two more, as verdicts were delivered in Australia’s largest terrorist trial.

No attack took place, but prosecutors charged that the group, based in Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, intended to undertake “violent jihad” and identified railway stations and sports fields as possible targets.

During the long-running trial, prosecutors charge the group had talked about launching an attack at a soccer final that attracts close to 100,000 people each year, or the Formula One Grand Prix race held annually in the southern city.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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