- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

BRITAIN

Dolly creator wants to clone human cells

LONDON — The creator of Dolly the sheep, the world’s first mammal cloned from an adult, applied for a human cloning license yesterday to study how nerve cells go awry to cause motor neuron disease.

Ian Wilmut, who led the team that created Dolly at Scotland’s Roslin Institute in 1996, said he plans to clone cells from patients with the incurable muscle-wasting disease, derive stem cells from the cloned embryo, make them develop into nerve cells and compare their development with nerve cells derived from healthy embryos.

Such work, called therapeutic cloning because it does not produce a baby, is opposed by abortion foes and other biological conservatives because researchers must destroy human embryos to harvest the cells.

The United Nations is scheduled to vote next month on a convention regarding human cloning. The United States is pressing for it to ban all forms of human cloning, while Belgium heads a faction seeking a ban on reproductive cloning but allowing the option for countries to approve therapeutic cloning.

Britain became the first country to legalize research cloning in 2001, but only now are scientists ready to start using the technique. They hope it will revolutionize medicine by providing better treatments for a variety of illnesses.

NORTH KOREA

Nukes called threat deterrent

NEW YORK — North Korea says it has turned plutonium from 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods into nuclear weapons to deter increasing U.S. nuclear threats and to prevent a nuclear war in northeast Asia.

Warning that the danger of war on the Korean Peninsula is “snowballing,” Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon provided details Monday of the nuclear deterrent that he said North Korea has developed for self-defense.

In Washington, a State Department official said the Bush administration takes Mr. Choe’s claim seriously but added that it is impossible to verify in the absence of independent inspectors at North Korea’s nuclear sites.

ESTONIA

Tribute paid to ferry victims

TALLINN — Estonia, Finland and Sweden paid tribute yesterday to the 852 persons killed a decade ago when their ferry sank in a storm on the Baltic Sea.

In Tallinn, Estonian President Arnold Ruutel and Prime Minister Juhan Parts laid wreaths at a monument to those who died on the MV Estonia and said the passage of time had not dulled the pain.

The ferry, en route from the Estonian capital to Stockholm, sank in 45 minutes on Sept. 28, 1994, after waves reaching nearly 26 feet ripped off the 56-ton bow door, sending water gushing into the car deck. Only 138 persons were rescued.

WEST BANK

Palestinians mark uprising anniversary

RAMALLAH — Palestinians marked the fourth anniversary of their uprising yesterday amid signs that the extremist Hamas group is preparing a political challenge to Yasser Arafat, despite a series of Israeli military blows at the movement’s leadership.

Hamas published newspaper ads urging supporters to vote in upcoming municipal elections, saying, “It’s time for change.” A top Hamas leader indicated the group might try to unseat Mr. Arafat in presidential elections, which have not been scheduled.

Meanwhile, Palestinian militants released an Arab-Israeli television producer for CNN a day after his abduction in the Gaza Strip. It was not clear why he was taken hostage.

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