- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

IRAN

Paper says Israel has Iran strike plan

LONDON — Israel has drawn up plans for a combined air and ground attack on Iranian nuclear installations if diplomacy fails to halt Tehran’s atomic program, London’s Sunday Times said.

The newspaper said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his inner Cabinet at a private meeting last month had given “initial authorization” for a unilateral attack on Iran.

“If all efforts to persuade Iran to drop its plans to produce nuclear weapons should fail, the U.S. administration will authorize Israel to attack,” the paper quoted an Israeli security source as saying.

But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday she was not aware of such a plan.

CHINA

Legislature authorizes attack

BEIJING — China’s national legislature today overwhelmingly approved a law authorizing a military attack to stop Taiwan from pursuing formal independence, a day after President Hu Jintao told the 2.5-million-member People’s Liberation Army to be prepared for war.

The measure was approved by a vote of 2,896 to zero, with two abstentions on the last day of the National People’s Congress’ annual session.

“We shall step up preparations for possible military struggle and enhance our capabilities to cope with crises, safeguard peace, prevent wars and win the wars, if any,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Mr. Hu as saying yesterday.

IRAQ

Sunni group claims attack on mosque

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A little-known Sunni Muslim group claimed responsibility yesterday for a suicide bombing that killed 50 persons at a Shi’ite mosque in northern Iraq last week, according to an Internet statement.

The group, which calls itself Jamaat Jund al-Sahaba (“Soldiers of the Prophet’s Companions”), vowed to carry out attacks against Shi’ites it describes as “rejectionists” who are not real Muslims.

“We started with the Mosul raid against the rejectionists,” said the statement posted on a Web site. “We threaten to step up attacks against the rejectionists if they do not stop their aggression.

ISRAEL

Hamas election bid could hamper talks

JERUSALEM — The participation of Hamas militants sworn to destroying Israel in Palestinian elections could complicate any future Middle East peace negotiations, Israeli officials said yesterday.

Hamas announced on Saturday it would compete in July’s parliamentary vote, a step that Israeli spokesman Avi Pazner said could “pose problems for [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and for the future of negotiations between us and the Palestinian Authority.”

“This movement is extremely dangerous, not only to us, but also to the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

SAUDI ARABIA

One killed, 3 nabbed in raid on militants

JIDDA — Saudi security forces killed one man and arrested three others in a raid on a suspected militant’s apartment in Jidda yesterday, officials and witnesses said.

A Saudi woman also was killed and her husband injured, while 13 policemen were wounded in the early-morning clashes north of the Red Sea city, an Interior Ministry statement said. Officials said the Saudi couple were bystanders.

In response to the shooting, the United States said it was postponing today’s advance U.S. Independence Day celebrations at its consulate in Jidda, which was targeted by militants three months ago.

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