IRAN / New nuclear plan data worry UN agency
The UN nuclear monitoring agency says it has received recent information adding to concerns that Iran may have worked on developing nuclear arms. The view is contained in a confidential report issued Friday by the International Atomic Energy Agency that was obtained by the AP. The report said Iran has stonewalled the agency's probe into alleged experiments on a weapons program since 2008. It listed those alleged experiments as "giving rise to concern about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme." Iran says its nuclear program is meant only to generate reactor fuel. Meanwhile, Syria has formally rejected a request from the IAEA chief for access to a suspected nuclear site. Diplomats said senior Syrian officials told the IAEA in a letter this month that Syria would allow no new inspections.
IRELAND / Ruling party at risk as voters go to polls
Angry voters in Ireland went to the polls Friday in an election that could wreak vengeance on the country's ruling party, Fianna Fáil, or the Republican Party, which has been in power for 61 of the last 79 years. Public outrage over a decimated economy and a humiliating international financial bailout has put the party on course for the worst electoral defeat in its history. Analysts predict the party will struggle to keep even a third of the parliamentary seats it won last time when final results become clear late Saturday or early Sunday. The expected realignment of Ireland's political landscape is due to its economic implosion over the last three years.
CHINA / 13 offenses removed from capital crimes list
China dropped the death penalty Friday for more than a dozen nonviolent crimes and banned capital punishment for offenders older than 75 in a bid to rein in abuses in the justice system. China executes more people every year than any other country, and critics say too many crimes are punishable by death. Thirteen offenses will be removed from the list of 68 crimes punishable by the death penalty, said Lang Sheng, who heads the legal panel in the National People's Congress. The 13 crimes include forging and selling invoices to avoid taxes and smuggling cultural relics and precious metals such as gold out of the country. The move would not reduce executions because the 13 crimes have rarely had capital punishment applied to them, said Joshua Rosenzweig of the U.S.-based human rights group Dui Hua Foundation.
PAKISTAN / Police: Another American arrested
Police in northwest Pakistan say they have arrested an American staying in the area on an expired visa. The arrest comes amid strained U.S.-Pakistani relations following the detention of a CIA contractor who shot two Pakistanis in Lahore. Police officer Haroon Khan identified the man arrested Friday in Peshawar as Aaron Mark DeHaven of West Virginia. It was not clear what he was doing in Pakistan. The U.S. Embassy said it was looking into the case.
IRAQ / Official: Leader of al-Qaida affiliate killed
An Iraqi official says Iraqi security forces have killed the top military leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida linked group responsible for bombings across Iraq. Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi told the AP on Friday that al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman, the group's war minister, was killed Thursday. Suleiman replaced the Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who was killed in a U.S.-Iraqi military strike in April.