- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2004

IRAN

Defenses boosted on nuclear sites

TEHRAN — Iran said yesterday that it was producing defense equipment to protect its citizens in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities, according to press reports.

Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said U.S. sanctions had forced Iran to seek self-sufficiency to meet all its defense requirements, the government-owned Persian daily Iran reported.

“If our nuclear power plants are targeted, there will be radioactive releases. You need special equipment to control it,” Mr. Shamkhani was quoted as saying.

Iran’s neighbors Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons. Israel also is thought to possess hundreds of nuclear warheads.

KUWAIT

Islamist charged with recruiting youths

Kuwait’s public prosecutor yesterday formally charged an Islamist activist with mobilizing local youths to fight foreign troops in Iraq, judicial sources said.

The accused, Jaber al-Jalahma, was on a list of Kuwaiti Islamists named by the United States as potentially dangerous earlier this year. He denied the charges.

Kuwait has launched a crackdown on a local network suspected of links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network and of encouraging and training young men to fight foreign troops in Kuwait and Iraq, helping them to enter Iraq via Syria.

SAUDI ARABIA

Protests delay trial of reform activists

RIYADH — A Saudi judge this week postponed the trial of three democratic reform advocates after their supporters, in a rare show of public dissent, demonstrated for access and then protested loudly once allowed into court.

More than 400 supporters of Matrouk al-Faleh, Ali al-Dimeeni and Abdullah al-Hamed held a three-hour peaceful protest outside the courtroom.

During the first session of the trial last week, the three reformists were charged with sowing dissent, creating political instability, printing political leaflets and using the press to incite people against the government.

SYRIA

Hamas chief decries ‘old accusations’

DAMASCUS — A top Hamas official yesterday dismissed U.S. terror-funding charges against himself and two other Palestinians as “old accusations” dusted off to boost President Bush’s counterterror credentials in a U.S. election year.

The United States issued an arrest warrant for Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy chief of Hamas’ political bureau, last week and detained U.S. citizens Mohammed Salah and Abdelhaleem Ashqar.

It accuses the three of laundering millions of dollars through U.S. bank accounts in the past 15 years to Hamas, the Palestinian group behind dozens of suicide attacks against Israel.

LEBANON

Pro-Syrian president seeks new term

BEIRUT — Emile Lahoud, Lebanon’s pro-Syrian president, said yesterday he wanted to stay in office, which would require a constitutional change that critics of Syria’s power over its smaller neighbor oppose.

Syria has the last word politically in Lebanon, into which it poured thousands of troops during the 1975-90 civil war, but critics of Syria’s influence have denounced Mr. Lahoud’s efforts to stay in office.

The top cleric for Lebanon’s Christians opposes changing the constitution, which requires Mr. Lahoud to step down in November.

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