In brief: Iran threatens to shut oil export route
Tehran, Iran – Iran’s official news agency on Tuesday quoted a top official as saying Iran will close the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off oil exports, if the West imposes sanctions on Iran’s oil shipments.
According to the IRNA report Tuesday, Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi said Iran does not want hostilities but charged that the West continues its plots against Iran.
The West is considering limiting Iran’s oil trade over its disputed nuclear program. Some 80 percent of Iran’s foreign revenue comes from oil exports.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner called the threat “bluster.”
He said it was “another attempt by them to distract attention from the real issue, which is their continued noncompliance with international nuclear obligations.”
Clashes persist despite monitoring
Beirut – Tens of thousands of defiant Syrian protesters thronged the streets of Homs Tuesday, calling for the execution of President Bashar Assad, shortly after his army pulled its tanks back and allowed Arab League monitors in for the first time to the city at the heart of the anti-government uprising.
The pullback was the first sign the regime was complying with the League’s plan to end the 9-month-old crackdown on mostly unarmed and peaceful protesters.
Yet amateur video released by activists showed forces firing on protesters even while the monitors were inside the city.
Syrian tanks had been heavily shelling Homs for days, residents and activists said, killing dozens even after Assad signed on early last week to the Arab League plan, which demands the government remove its security forces and heavy weapons from city streets, start talks with opposition leaders and allow human rights workers and journalists into the country.
Fernandez to have cancer surgery
Buenos Aires, Argentina – President Cristina Fernandez has thyroid cancer, but test results Tuesday show that it remains limited to a lobe in the right side of her neck, and has not metastasized or spread into her lymph nodes, her spokesman said.
The presidential medical service said the cancer was discovered during a routine exam on Dec. 22, and that Fernandez received the results from follow-up tests on Tuesday.
Fernandez will undergo surgery on Jan. 4 at the Hospital Austral in Buenos Aires and then take 20 days of medical leave, during which Vice President Amado Boudou will run the country, he said.
This kind of thyroid cancer is highly survivable, with more than 95 percent of patients living at least 10 years after detection, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.