- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 26, 2009

IRAN

Woes beset nuclear efforts

VIENNA | Iran’s output of enriched uranium is stagnating, diplomats said Tuesday, suggesting the country may be running short of the material needed for producing nuclear fuel or the fissile core of warheads.

The diplomats - who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential - emphasized that the possibility Iran was running out of uranium oxide was only one of several possible explanations of why it had not increased its production of enriched uranium since May.

But they said it seemed unlikely the Islamic republic had deliberately decided to curb its production. They noted that, despite the stagnation in output, Iran continued over the past three months to expand its capabilities by installing hundreds more of the centrifuges that spin uranium hexafluoride gas derived from uranium oxide into enriched uranium.

With Iran under strict U.N. embargoes and on an international watch list meant to cripple its ability to import nuclear materials illegally, it could find it difficult to procure enough uranium oxide to feed its enrichment program.

WEST BANK

Palestinian seeks aid for state

RAMALLAH | An international airport for a future state of Palestine, national institutions and new rail links were listed by the Palestinian prime minister Tuesday as needs in a government program requiring foreign funding.

Salam Fayyad’s 65-page program proposes a generous tax regime for foreign investors in a Palestinian state, which he says could be made ready by 2011.

The Palestinian Authority is heavily dependent on foreign assistance for most of its budget. In 2008, it received $1.8 billion in budget support.

The Fayyad plan is short on detail, but setting out such objectives is a departure from Palestinian policy over the past 15 years, which focused exclusively on negotiations with Israel rather than building institutions.

TURKEY

Military opposes talks with rebels

ANKARA | Turkey’s military indicated Tuesday that it would back government efforts to grant more rights to Kurds and improve the economy of their region. The military, however, drew the line at moves that would involve negotiating with Kurdish rebels, harm Turkey’s unity or make Kurdish an official language.

Turkey’s government is seeking nationwide support for yet-to-be-announced plans to end the country’s 25-year-old conflict with the rebels.

Opposition parties have strongly criticized those efforts, accusing the government of making concessions to terrorists and warning that the moves could break up the country along ethnic lines. They also accused the military of being party to those actions after a National Security Council meeting last month recommended that the government pursue its peace efforts.

In a statement posted on its Web site, Gen. Ilker Basbug, the military chief of staff, responded to the criticism, saying the army would maintain its drive against the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

In the first direct military statement on the government’s plans, Gen. Basbug also said the military would refuse to be “involved in any activity that could lead to forging contacts with the terrorist organization or its supporters.”

IRAQ

Baghdad, Damascus recall envoys

BAGHDAD | Iraq and Syria recalled their ambassadors Tuesday after Baghdad demanded that Damascus hand over two people it says masterminded bombings in the Iraqi capital last week, which killed more than 100 people.

Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government has blamed supporters of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Ba’ath party for massive truck bombs and other attacks last Wednesday, and says it has already captured some suspects it deems responsible.

In a tape aired Sunday, one man captured said he acted under orders from a man in Syria called Sattam Farhan, a member of a wing of the Ba’ath party headed by Mohammad Younis al-Ahmed.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi Cabinet has asked Syria to hand over Mr. al-Ahmed and Mr. Farhan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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