- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2005

RUSSIA

Iran to sign deal on spent nuclear fuel

MOSCOW — Iran said yesterday it will sign a contract with Russia on the return of spent fuel that will allow Moscow to start up Iran’s first nuclear power plant, despite U.S. saber rattling.

Ambassador Gholamreza Shafei told reporters an accord on the return to Russia of spent nuclear fuel may be reached during a visit to Iran at the end of this month by Alexander Rumyantsev, Russia’s atomic energy chief. “Tehran is ready to sign a commercial agreement on this issue,” Mr. Shafei said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, a Bush administration hawk, told reporters in Turkey yesterday he hoped diplomacy would be enough to convince Tehran “that Iran’s interests are best served by getting rid of” the nuclear weapons program it denies having.

KUWAIT

Troops OK’d to check homes for weapons

KUWAIT CITY — Parliament approved tough new powers for the security forces yesterday after a wave of unrest by Islamist militants that has rocked the oil-rich Persian Gulf emirate.

Officials hailed a blow dealt to the militants in a fierce gunbattle on Monday, but an Islamist group warned Kuwait in an Internet statement that it faces a fierce war unless U.S. military forces are pulled out.

In a seven-hour closed-door session, lawmakers approved a government request to authorize security forces to search private homes for illegal weapons. The bill will come into force one month after its publication in the official gazette.

YEMEN

Authorities foil antiquities theft

SAN’A — Security officials prevented an attempt to smuggle artifacts and antiquities out of the country by an Iraqi posing as chief of a cargo company and seized 500 items from his house in an expensive neighborhood of San’a.

“The pieces, including bronze statuettes, coins and engraved stones, were examined and verified by a special team,” Abdullah Jarallah, head of the Public Committee for Antiquities and Museums, was quoted as saying by the official Yemeni News Agency.

Mr. Jarallah said the man admitted having smuggled antiquities last year through Aden’s airport. Antiquities thefts are common in Yemen, which is rich in archaeological sites that have limited protection.

Weekly notes

Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani al-Malka said yesterday his government is about to open a representative office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The daily al-Arab newspaper in Amman quoted him as saying the move “falls within the framework of Jordan’s reaffirmation that the planned unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza should be part of a total pullout from Palestinian territories.” Mr. Malka said Jordan will not open the office before Israel’s withdrawal from West Bank cities, and that the office will be run by a senior Foreign Ministry official with the rank of minister. … Israel’s attorney general ordered the government yesterday to rescind a decision to enforce a decades-old law under which large tracts of Palestinian land in Arab East Jerusalem could be confiscated. The government invoked the 1950 Absentee Property Law in July and word leaked out last month, alarming Palestinians who feared an attempt to usurp their claims to East Jerusalem, which they want as the capital of a future state. Israeli press said the move angered Washington, which saw it as an obstacle to peace.


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