- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

IRAN

Ahmadinejad warns against aggression on Iran

TEHRAN | Iran’s armed forces will make the country’s enemies regret any act of aggression against the Islamic republic, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday as Iranians marked National Army Day with a military parade near the capital, Tehran.

Although Mr. Ahmadinejad did not specify any countries, such language by Iranian officials is a common reference to the West, especially the United States and Israel.

The harsh tone was typical of speeches for military events, but it contrasted sharply with a sense of cautious progress after the direct talks with world powers last week on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

The remarks could leave Western officials confused by the mixed signals.

“Our armed forces will make the enemy face a heavy and shameful regret if they commit any aggression and violate Iran’s interests,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

Neither the U.S. nor Israel has ruled out a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, which the West suspects are geared toward making nuclear arms - a charge Tehran denies, insisting its program is for peaceful purposes only.

Iran’s refusal to halt the uranium enrichment program has been its main point of contention with the West.

WEST BANK

Hundreds of Palestinians declare hunger strike

RAMALLAH | Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel launched a hunger strike on Tuesday, officials said, protesting their conditions and demanding an end to detentions without trial as the Palestinians marked their annual day of solidarity with the inmates.

About 3,500 prisoners refused meals on “Prisoners’ Day,” and 1,200 of them said they would continue with an open-ended hunger strike, according to Israeli prison service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman.

The hunger strike is one of the largest on record, said Sahar Francis of Addameer, a prisoner rights group.

Although it remained unclear how many will continue with the protest, they join 10 other Palestinian prisoners already on a hunger strike, including two who have been hospitalized after refusing food for more than 40 days, she said.

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