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Report raises worry about Iran nukes

Fri., March 24, 2006, midnight

U.S. officials are concerned that Iran may be closer than they previously believed to mastering the process for producing fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Their unease stems from a recent briefing at which U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency experts reported that Iran was close to operating a test network of 164 machines, called centrifuges, that spin uranium hexafluoride gas into enriched uranium, U.S. officials and a foreign diplomat said.

Depending on its duration, the process produces low enriched uranium for power plants or highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

The report came amid a deadlock in two-week-old talks among the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – the U.N. Security Council permanent members – on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.


Details promised in archbishop’s death

A former Salvadoran air force captain accused in the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero has broken a 26-year silence to ask the Catholic Church for forgiveness and promise that he will reveal what he knows in a book.

Alvaro Saravia, in an exclusive interview with El Nuevo Herald, acknowledged that he played a role in the case and said the book will name others responsible for the murder of Romero, which helped fuel a 12-year war that left an estimated 75,000 dead.

“They were the people most involved,” said Saravia, who was a close aide to the late Roberto D’Aubuisson, an alleged death squad leader and ultrarightist who founded the Nationalist Republican Alliance, the party currently in power.

As to his request for forgiveness, “that’s a moral obligation I have, as a human being, to society, to the church and myself,” Saravia said in an interview recently in a Latin American country he asked not be identified for his own security.


China targets chopsticks with tax

Is China at a fork in the road?

Beijing this week slapped a 5 percent tax on chopsticks, dealing what many Chinese say was a powerful gut punch. In cafes here Thursday, people dropped their chopsticks and spewed out a mouthful against the new tax. Some said it could splinter a 5,000-year-old tradition.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Gordon Wu, an advertising executive, said during lunch at a central Shanghai restaurant.

The tax won’t drain many pocketbooks here: A penny buys bunches of chopsticks. That’s why the government thinks it’s a good way to save the nation’s vanishing forests. China carves up about 45 billion pairs of chopsticks a year, using about 25 million poplar and birch trees.


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