- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2004

LEBANON

Saddam was close to nuclear capability

BEIRUT — Iraq was three years away from producing a nuclear bomb before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the No. 2 Iraqi scientist on the secret atomic program said yesterday, offering a rare insider’s assessment.

Noman Saad Eddin al-Noaimi, a former director-general of Iraq’s nuclear program, said the Iraqis were able to produce less than 2.2 pounds of highly enriched uranium before the program was halted. It is estimated that a bomb would require at least 22 pounds. Mr. al-Noaimi had worked with Jafar Dhia Jafar, the father of Iraq’s nuclear-bomb program.

IRAQ

Oil exports hit $6.15 billion

BAGHDAD — Baghdad has exported more than $6 billion in crude oil since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government nearly a year ago, the U.S.-led authority governing Iraq disclosed yesterday.

The Coalition Provisional Authority said in an Internet posting that it had deposited $6.15 billion into its Development Fund for Iraq as of Thursday.

Oil-market sources say Iraqi crude exports in March are slowly rising and expected to exceed 2 million barrels a day for the first time since the war began about a year ago.

EGYPT

Mubarak to open reform conference

CAIRO — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will open a conference on Arab political reform this week, officials said yesterday, after he defended his own gradual approach to change against a much-criticized U.S. plan.

Mr. Mubarak will be in Egypt’s Mediterranean port of Alexandria on Friday to open the two-day meeting of academics, business leaders and others under the sponsorship of both governmental and nongovernmental organizations, they said.

Mr. Mubarak is expected to reiterate his view that a speedy reform package will do more harm than good for Arab countries, a point he hammered repeatedly during his recent visits to Italy and France. He is to meet with President Bush on April 12 in Washington.

JORDAN

Joint science center with Israel under way

KILOMETER 99, ON THE ISRAELI-JORDANIAN BORDER — Israel and Jordan broke ground yesterday on a joint science center that will straddle their border — their most ambitious educational project since they signed a peace deal 10 years ago.

Organizers said creating the 150-acre campus is a way of building peace from the ground up. The project has the backing of Israeli, Jordanian and American businesspeople, as well as Cornell and Stanford universities in the United States.

Although the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994, cultural and economic relations are limited.

IRAN

Dissident writer loses appeal

TEHRAN — A prominent Iranian dissident journalist has lost his appeal of a one-year prison sentence for writing “propaganda against the regime,” with the hard-line judiciary also shutting down two weekly newspapers, reports said yesterday.

Local media said a revolutionary tribunal confirmed the sentence handed down last September.

Mohsen Sazegara had been accused of inciting protests through his writings. Mr. Sazegara played a leading role in the 1979 Islamic revolution and had held a number of government posts, but fell from grace after he began to question the status of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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