- - Tuesday, January 4, 2011

CHINA

China claims mastery of nuke fuel reprocessing

BEIJING | Chinese scientists have mastered the technology for reprocessing nuclear fuel, potentially yielding additional power sources to keep the country’s economy booming, state television reported Monday.

The breakthrough will extend by many times the amount of power that can be generated from China’s nuclear plants by allowing the recovery of fissile and fertile materials to provide new fuel, CCTV said.

Several European countries, Russia, India and Japan already reprocess nuclear fuel — the materials used to make nuclear energy — to separate out and recover the unused uranium and plutonium, reduce waste and close the nuclear cycle for safety reasons.

Each country’s process is generally considered an industrial secret and not shared.

IRAN

U.S.-linked nuke scientist reported to be in prison

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates | An Iranian nuclear scientist who claimed that he slipped away from his CIA captors has not been seen publicly since his heroic return to Tehran last year and could be facing an investigation as a suspected turncoat, according to an opposition website.

The report on the website Iranbriefing.net says that Shahram Amiri is being held in a Tehran prison, where he reportedly was beaten so severely that he had to be hospitalized for a week.

The website’s account could not be verified, but it purports to offer the first details on Mr. Amiri’s fate since he surfaced in the U.S. six months ago amid an array of contradictory stories between Tehran and Washington.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. general: Deal with tribe in Taliban bastion

KABUL | The leaders of the largest tribe in a Taliban stronghold in southern Helmand province have pledged to halt insurgent attacks and expel foreign fighters from one of the most violent spots in the country, the senior U.S. Marine general in Afghanistan said Monday.

Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, who commands coalition forces in the southwest, said the deal was struck between local elders in the Sangin district and Helmand Gov. Gulabuddin Mangal with the consultation of coalition forces. The area has been the site of some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

However, it is unlikely that the violence will cease immediately in Sangin.

EGYPT

Church bombing probe focuses on final body

CAIRO | Egyptian investigators are focusing on a set of unidentified remains from the bombing of an Alexandria church that may be linked to the attacker, a security official said Monday.

Investigators say a suicide attacker carried out the bombing on the Saints Church in the coastal city of Alexandria as worshippers were emerging from midnight Mass, killing 21.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, the worst on Egyptian Christians in a decade.

In the immediate aftermath, President Hosni Mubarak blamed foreigners, but security officials now say police are looking at homegrown extremists who were inspired by al Qaeda.

AUSTRALIA

Relief flights help flood-affected city

BRISBANE | Military flights rushed Monday to restock an Australian city before it was cut off by floodwaters that have turned a huge swath of the Outback into a lake, while police confirmed two more deaths in the crisis.

Drenching rain that started before Christmas has flooded an area the size of France and Germany combined in northeastern Queensland state. Rivers are overflowing, and at least 22 towns and cities in the farming region are inundated.

In the coastal city of Rockhampton, waters from the still-swelling Fitzroy River closed the airport and cut the main highway to the state capital of Brisbane.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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