- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

IRAN

Sanctions said ready if needed

Obama administration officials told impatient lawmakers Tuesday that they are ready to take swift and substantial action against Iran if it disregards current diplomatic efforts to stop its purported nuclear weapons program.

At a Senate banking committee hearing, lawmakers expressed skepticism that Iran would negotiate in good faith. They said they would not wait long before acting on legislation to impose tough new sanctions on the Tehran government.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, said he planned to move forward this month on a proposal to extend restrictions on financial transactions, impose new sanctions on oil and gas pipelines and tankers, restrict exports of certain refined petroleum products to Iran and impose a broad ban on imports from Iran.

Administration officials at the hearing stressed that sanctions against Iran are most effective if imposed by a united international coalition.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Competition eyed for Panama Canal

MANAGUA, Nicaragua | The United Arab Emirates is interested in participating in a project to build a canal across Nicaragua linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Gulf state’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

“We are looking for various means of cooperation” and “of being part of the initiative to unite two oceans with a canal,” said Prince Abdullah Zayed Al Nayan after meeting with President Daniel Ortega late Monday.

Mr. Ortega made a detailed presentation to the United Arab Emirates delegation about the potential for outside investment in energy, ports and infrastructure, including the canal project, which China and Venezuela have expressed interest in.

The idea of building a canal across Nicaragua dates from the mid-19th century, but was overtaken by the construction of the Panama Canal.

In recent years, however, Nicaraguan governments have revived the concept as a way to promote development of the country, one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

ISRAEL

Warplanes scramble over nuclear reactor

JERUSALEM | Israel’s air force scrambled fighter jets Tuesday after a small civilian aircraft flew into restricted airspace near the country’s heavily guarded and secretive Dimona nuclear reactor, security officials said Tuesday.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding the Dimona reactor.

The Israeli military said two fighter planes that were already airborne responded and directed the pilot to a nearby airport. Israeli media said the man had flown into the area accidentally and was released after being questioned.

Foreign experts have concluded that Israel possesses a formidable nuclear arsenal based on pictures taken at the site two decades ago by a technician.

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