Israel planning N-strike on Iran: Report
UN chief: Stay executions of Saddam aides
Prison cannibal attack chills France
I am real Muslim, says Musharraf
India, Pakistan likely to sign four pacts
Iran vows to cooperate with UN agency
Boy contracts bird flu
Skilled migrant Indians seek justice
‘Kabul Express’ banned in Afghanistan
London, January 7
Citing what it said were several Israeli military sources, the paper said two Israeli air force squadrons had been training to blow up an enrichment plant in Natanz using low-yield nuclear ''bunker busters''.
Two other sites, a heavy water plant at Arak and a uranium conversion plant at Isfahan, would be targeted with conventional bombs, the Sunday Times said.
The UN Security Council voted unanimously last month to slap sanctions on Iran to try to stop uranium enrichment that Western powers fear could lead to making bombs. Tehran insists its plans are peaceful and says it will continue enrichment.
Israel has refused to rule out pre-emptive military action against Iran along the lines of its 1981 air strike against an atomic reactor in Iraq, although many analysts believe Iran's nuclear facilities are too much for Israel to take on alone.
An Israeli government spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, declined comment on the Sunday Times report. Israel does not discuss its assumed atomic arsenal, under an ''ambiguity strategy'' billed as warding off regional foes while avoiding arms races.
''We don't comment on stories like this in the Sunday Times,'' Eisin said.
In Tehran, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a news conference that the newspaper report ''will make clear to the world public opinion that the Zionist regime (Israel) is the main menace to global peace and the region''.
He said ''any measure against Iran will not be left without a response and the invader will regret its act immediately.'' Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be ''wiped off the map'' and Israel has said it will not allow Iran to acquire a bomb.
The Sunday Times quoted sources as saying a nuclear strike would only be used if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene. Disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, the paper added.
It said the Israeli plan envisaged conventional laser-guided bombs opening ''tunnels'' into the targets. Nuclear warheads would then be used fired into the plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce radioactive fallout.
Israeli pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the (3,200 km) round-trip to the Iranian targets, the Sunday Times said, and three possible routes to Iran have been mapped out including one over Turkey.
An Israeli defence source, who did not want to be identified, wrote off the Sunday Times report as ''psychological warfare''.
''If we have such capabilities, I find it extremely unlikely that we would use them in a 'tactical strike','' the source said.
''Israel's nuclear option, if it exists, is exclusively part of a second-strike doctrine,'' the source said, referring to a deterrent strategy whereby a country ensures it can retaliate massively for a catastrophic attack on its territory.
Washington has said military force remains an option while insisting that its priority is to reach a diplomatic solution. — Reuters
United Nations, January 7
Ban's Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar, wrote to the Iraqi authorities urging ''restraint by the government of Iraq in the execution of death sentences imposed by the Iraqi High Tribunal,'' Ban spokeswoman Michele Montas said in a statement yesterday.
A clandestine video of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's execution last Saturday provoked international criticism and further inflamed sectarian passions in Iraq.
Ban, a South Korean who took office as the United Nations' eighth secretary-general last Monday, created a flap on Tuesday by saying capital punishment was up to individual nations.
The statement triggered a wave of criticism from human rights groups, prompting his spokeswoman to add later that Ban believed in the need to work to abolish the death penalty, although he was aware nations differed on the issue.
Kofi Annan, Ban's predecessor, opposed the death penalty as a matter of policy, along with many other top UN officials and all members of the European Union.
Some 68 countries, including South Korea, retain the death penalty, although many have not executed anyone in recent years and Seoul is considering abolishing it.
Following the criticism, Ban urged Iraq on Wednesday to stay executions after Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, appealed to Iraq not to put to death two Iraqi officials who served under Saddam.
Saddam's hanging angered his fellow Sunni Arabs after video images showed Shia officials taunting him on the gallows.
Saddam's execution had been rushed through four days after he lost an appeal.
Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence chief, and Awad al-Bander, a former chief judge, were found guilty along with Saddam of crimes against humanity in the killings of 148 Shia men from Dujail in the 1980s.
The Iraqi Government has not set a date for the executions, but speculation has mounted they could be put to death soon. — Reuters
Dhaka, January 7
Army troops and other security personnel were out in force in capital Dhaka while military vehicles patrolled the streets mounting automatic weapons on the first day of the 72-hour nationwide siege called by the mega alliance.
About 50 persons, including some policemen, were injured as the riot police and elite Rapid Action Battalion clashed with activists of the alliance who tried to stage protest marches defying a ban, media reports and witnesses said.
The Shyamoli area in northern Dhaka appeared to be the scene of the day’s worst violence where more than 30 activists and policemen were injured in clashes when the police exhausted its stock of tear gas canisters requiring reinforcement.
The police said they were forced to retaliate firing rubber bullets and tear gas as the activists threw stones.
The mega alliance is demanding the resignation of Ahmed as the head of the caretaker government and new election schedule after correcting the disputed voters’ list scrapping the current schedule setting January 22 for the voting.
The initial two-day railway, waterway and road blockade was extended by another day late yesterday after President Ahmed put his foot down saying polls would be held as planned on January 22. —PTI
Paris, January 7
It also brings back memories of Japanese Issey Sagawa, who 25 years ago killed his Dutch girlfriend in Paris, ate much of her body over three days and went on to become a celebrity at home.
Reminiscent of psychopath Hannibal Lecter in the 1981 film "The Silence of the Lambs" -- who was "having an old friend for dinner" -- the 35-year-old French prisoner may have fried parts of a cellmate's lungs and chest with onions before devouring them, investigators believe.
The prisoner -- named by the French daily Le Parisien as Nicolas Cocaigne -- has confessed to the attack and been charged with premeditated murder and "violating the integrity of a corpse".
The body of 31-year-old Thierry Baudry was found early Thursday when guards opened the cells in the prison of Rouen in northwest France.
According to the prosecutor, he had been beaten, cut with scissors and a razor, strangled and finally asphyxiated with a
A third detainee in the cell was charged with being an accessory to murder.
Cocaigne's initial claim that he had eaten his victim's heart was disproved when the heart was found intact in an autopsy.
But investigators do believe that he devoured parts of his lungs and chest, possibly after preparing them in a cooker. — AFP
Islamabad, January 7
Pakistan faced no external threat, but some internal elements were against the development of the country, he said on Saturday during a tour of NWFP, which is ruled by rightwing Islamist parties that have questioned his policies on women and his advocating enlightened moderation.
“Extremists, whether Taliban or others, shall not be allowed to hold sway in Pakistan,” the President said at the inauguration ceremony for a project to supply gas to the southern NWFP districts of Hangu, Karak, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.
“Some retrogressive elements propagate that I am against Islam but I tell you that they are wrong,” he said. “I am the real Muslim,” Pakistan Online quoted him as saying.
With religious extremists trying to fan “a civil war”, President Musharraf harked back to the era when Pakistan was created in 1947. The Pushtuns, he said, had backed Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founding father, during the foundation of Pakistan.
Records of that era, however, say that the Pushtuns under Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan had opposed Jinnah’s Muslim League and chosen to stay within united India, till the Congress and the Muslim League agreed to the Partition. — IANS
India, Pakistan likely to sign four pacts
Islamabad, January 7
A key agreement on ‘reducing risk of nuclear accidents or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons’ which had been under discussion since August 2005 would be initialled by the foreign ministers of the two countries, said the sources.
The two sides had finalised the agreement during the foreign secretary-level talks in Delhi in November last.
According to informed sources, Mr Mukherjee is also likely to indicate dates for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan that many believe would be a major confidence-building measure. Mr Mukherjee will be leading an eight-member delegation to Islamabad to discuss with his Pakistani counterpart the vital issues of peace and security as well as Jammu and Kashmir. The delegation will comprise senior officials of the Indian External Affairs Ministry, including Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Iran & Afghanistan) Dilip Sinha, Joint Secretary Saarc and the ministry’s spokesperson Navtej Sarna.
During Mr Mukherjee’s meeting with Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, detailed discussions would be held on the various proposals for a settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the Siachen issue to narrow down differences, officials here said.
Trade, trans-Kashmir truck service, terrorism, issue of prisoners and re-opening of consulates in Mumbai and Karachi would also figure in the discussions, they said.
The Indian External Affairs Minister is scheduled to arrive here midday on January 13 and would leave for Delhi around the same time the following day.
During his stay in the capital, he will call on President Pervez Musharraf and extend an invitation to him to attend the 14th Saarc Summit being hosted by India in April. He will also call on Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik will also be arriving here ahead of Mr Mukherjee’s visit.
— By arrangement with The Dawn
Iran vows to cooperate with UN agency
Tehran, January 7 “It is not on Iran’s agenda to halt cooperation with the
IAEA,” foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said. “Tehran’s cooperation with the agency will continue within the previous framework”. The Iranian government said on Tuesday it was keeping open the option of quitting the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), if Western countries stepped up pressure on the Islamic republic over its atomic programme. Hosseini said “if a special condition is created, a decision will be made for that”, without specifying Iran’s reaction. —
Tehran, January 7
“It is not on Iran’s agenda to halt cooperation with the IAEA,” foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said. “Tehran’s cooperation with the agency will continue within the previous framework”.
The Iranian government said on Tuesday it was keeping open the option of quitting the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), if Western countries stepped up pressure on the Islamic republic over its atomic programme.
Hosseini said “if a special condition is created, a decision will be made for that”, without specifying Iran’s reaction. — AFP
Boy contracts bird flu
Jakarta, January 7 The boy, from Tangerang in West Java, was hospitalised in Jakarta after he suffered from bird-flu-like symptoms on January 1, the director-general of communicable disease control, Nyoman Kandun, told Reuters. He said the boy had been in contact with ducks but officials were still investigating the case. Sick poultry is the usual mode of transmission of the H5N1 bird Indonesia, which has the world’s highest bird flu death toll, has not reported any new human infections of the virus since November 28. —
Jakarta, January 7
The boy, from Tangerang in West Java, was hospitalised in Jakarta after he suffered from bird-flu-like symptoms on January 1, the director-general of communicable disease control, Nyoman Kandun, told Reuters.
He said the boy had been in contact with ducks but officials were still investigating the case. Sick poultry is the usual mode of transmission of the H5N1 bird
Indonesia, which has the world’s highest bird flu death toll, has not reported any new human infections of the virus since November 28. — Reuters
London, January 7
The British Government has victimised them by changing the rules of the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) under which they came here, they said in a letter to President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The new immigration rules that came into effect on December 5, disenfranchises potential non-European migrants over 28-years-old and earning UK salaries less than £ 35,000 per annum.
The temporary visas held by those who came here under HSMP make it impossible for them to get high-earning jobs and the changed rules make it impossible for them to stay on in Britain as previously promised by the government.
In their letter to the Prime Minister, they also urged him to take up their plight with his counterpart Tony Blair and ensure that the new immigration rules were not made applicable to those who are already in the UK under the HSMP.
They said, "We have been made targets of undemocratic, illegal and ill-motivated changes. Due to these new changes we who have made innumerable sacrifices in making the UK our country of habitual residence would be forced to wind up our establishments, careers, schooling of our children and investments and will be asked to leave the UK.” — PTI
Kabul Express’ banned in Afghanistan
Kabul, January 7
”The film has some sentences which were very offensive towards one of Afghanistan’s ethnicities, namely the Hazara. For this reason it has been banned,” Najib Manalai, Afghanistan’s minister of culture adviser, was quoted as saying.
Hazaras, a Shia Muslim minority, make up about 10 per cent of the Afghanistan population. — IANS
Qaida suspect’s accounts frozen
4 killed in Afghan blast
Man flogged in public