- - Wednesday, December 12, 2012

VIENNA, Austria — International officials engaged in a two-pronged effort Wednesday to engage Iran about concerns that the country may have worked on nuclear weapons. A U.N. team is seeking access to a site linked to such suspected activity, and European Union negotiators is looking to restart talks with Tehran meant to ease such fears.

Preparing to depart Vienna for Tehran, Herman Nackaerts of the International Atomic Energy Agency signaled impatience with Iran’s refusal to meet IAEA requests for information on its suspicion that the Islamic republic had researched and developed components of a nuclear weapons program.

In brief comments, he noted that “negotiations for almost one year” already have been conducted on the issue.

Mr. Nackaerts, who heads the IAEA’s nuclear investigation, also told reporters that his team was “ready to go” to Parchin, an Iranian site it suspects could have been used for such experiments, just as soon as Tehran approves a visit.


Congress dismisses four of Supreme Court’s five justices

TEGUCIGALPA — The Honduran congress has voted to dismiss four Supreme Court justices after they rejected a plan by President Porfirio Lobo to clean up the corrupt national police.

Wednesday’s vote would replace four of the five justices on the constitutional chamber, a committee of the court. The legislature said their conduct was endangering citizens.

Congress earlier approved a measure that would allow the president or congress to put the police cleanup and other issues to public referendum.

Mr. Lobo has said the justices were colluding with business leaders to undercut his power.


Blast at police station wounds 4 in Benghazi

TRIPOLI — A bomb blast outside a police station in the eastern city of Benghazi has wounded four people, two of them seriously, Libyan police officials said.

There was no immediate indication on who was behind Wednesday’s blast in an upscale Benghazi district.

Benghazi — Libya’s second-largest city — is home to hundreds of Islamist militiamen who fought Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in last year’s civil war.

After the fighting, most refused to surrender their weapons.

Benghazi also has witnessed a series of assassinations in recent weeks, including the killing last month of its security chief.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in September when militants attacked the U.S. Consulate.


Chavez faces ‘complex’ cancer surgery recovery

CARACAS — Venezuela’s vice president said Wednesday that President Hugo Chavez will face a “complex and hard” process after undergoing his fourth cancer-related operation in Cuba.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement a day after Mr. Chavez’s surgery, appearing on television with a sad expression, alongside other allies of the president.

“It was a complex, difficult, delicate operation,” Mr. Maduro said, adding that indicates “the post-operative process is also going to be a complex and hard process.”

The vice president, whom Mr. Chavez named over the weekend as his chosen political heir, was flanked by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, who had accompanied the president in Havana during the surgery.

Without giving details, Mr. Maduro called for Venezuelans to calmly face potentially difficult days ahead.


Afghanistan, Pakistan seek peace despite attack

ANKARA, Turkey — The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan are determined to press ahead with peace efforts after a meeting in Turkey, the country’s president said Wednesday, despite an attack that wounded the Afghan intelligence chief.

President Abdullah Gul described the bombing, which Afghanistan believes was planned in Pakistan, as an attempt to derail dialogue between the two countries.

At the end of a meeting aimed at easing tensions and increasing cooperation between the governments in Kabul and Islamabad, Mr. Gul said both had “renewed trust and are determined to work together.”

He was flanked by counterparts Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan.

Afghan intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid was seriously injured last week when a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy detonated an explosive.


Woman arrested at airport with cocaine in breast implants

MADRID — Spanish authorities arrested a Panamanian woman arriving at Barcelona Airport with 3 pounds of cocaine concealed in breast implants.

The Interior Ministry said Wednesday that border police noticed fresh scars and blood-stained gauze on her chest, as well as pale patches beneath her skin.

The woman said she had recently had breast implant surgery.

Police were suspicious and sent her to a hospital, where the implants were removed and were found to contain cocaine.

The woman arrived in Spain from Bogota, Colombia. European authorities routinely submit passengers arriving from Latin America to stringent checks to combat drug smuggling.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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