- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

Iran's nuclear data
TEHRAN Iran denied yesterday that it had stopped cooperating with a U.N. watchdog charged with verifying a worldwide ban on nuclear tests.
A spokeswoman for the Vienna, Austria-based Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said Friday that Tehran stopped sending in data in January.
"The information is erroneous," Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations in Vienna, Pirouz Hosseini, was quoted by Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying.
The CTBTO, which has a network of stations worldwide to verify that no nuclear tests take place, said the station in Iran, which began working in December, stopped transmitting information at the end of January.
CTBTO spokeswoman Daniela Roskonova said, "We were told by the Iranian authorities that the Iranian parliament started to ask itself whether it was a legal obligation to forward the data before the CTBT entered into force."
The 1996 treaty has not yet entered into force and appears unlikely to do so in the near future because of a clause that requires its ratification by 44 nuclear-risk states.
Countries on this list that have signed the treaty but not ratified it include the United States, China, Israel and Iran. India, Pakistan and North Korea have refused to sign it, while France, Britain and Russia have signed and ratified it.

Iraq postpones talks
BAGHDAD Iraq has confirmed that talks with the United Nations scheduled for this Thursday and Friday have been postponed to avoid deflecting attention from the violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The round of talks has been postponed," an Iraqi official told Agence France-Presse, asking not to be named. He did not give a new date for the discussions in New York.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said that meetings between Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri "have been postponed at the request of the Iraqis," adding: "We are in the process of trying to find new suitable dates for this discussion."

Afghans to head home
TEHRAN U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers left Iran by road yesterday for Afghanistan's eastern city of Herat after a two-day visit, a spokesman said.
Shortly before leaving Iran, Mr. Lubbers said 1.25 million Afghans are expected to return home in the next year, either from neighboring countries or from inside Afghanistan.
These will include 400,000 each from Iran and Pakistan, another 400,000 displaced within Afghanistan, and 50,000 from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, he told reporters. Since a U.N. project to help refugees return began on Tuesday, 2,127 Afghans have gone home from Iran, mostly to the Herat region and Kabul.
Iran's Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mussavi-Lari said that about 200,000 Afghans had received university or professional training, which would be of "great value" in rebuilding the country.

Betsy Pisik is on assignment. Her column will resume when she returns.

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