In brief: Syria threatens retaliation for hit
Beirut – Syria threatened Thursday to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike and its ally Iran said the Jewish state will regret the attack. Syria sent a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General stressing the country’s “right to defend itself, its territory and sovereignty” and holding Israel and its supporters accountable.
U.S. officials said Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday targeting a convoy carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran.
In Israel, a lawmaker close to hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of confirming involvement in the strike. But he hinted that Israel could carry out similar missions in the future.
Iran plans to increase uranium enrichment
Vienna – In a defiant move ahead of nuclear talks, Iran has announced plans to vastly increase its pace of uranium enrichment, which can make both reactor fuel and the fissile core of warheads. Eager to avoid scuttling those negotiations, world powers are keeping their response low-key.
Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intentions last week, and the IAEA informed member nations in an internal note seen by the Associated Press on Thursday.
Mark Fitzpatrick, a non-proliferation expert and former senior official at the U.S. State Department, described the planned upgrade as a potential “game-changer.”
“If thousands of the more efficient machines are introduced, the timeline for being able to produce a weapon’s worth of fissile material will significantly shorten,” said Fitzpatrick.
Health care workers killed by land mine
Islamabad – A land mine blast killed two polio vaccination workers in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, the latest deaths involving health care teams trying to eradicate the disease in the South Asian nation.
The blast occurred in Pakistan’s Kurram region, one of several remote tribal districts along the border with Afghanistan that have long harbored Islamic militants. Health care workers Muzamel Hussain and Akbar Badshah had been administering polio vaccination drops to children in the village of Malikhel and were on their motorcycle when a mine in the road exploded.