AP: Iran is continuing with a key process used to enrich uranium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons, but it is not violating an agreement to stop such activities because of a loophole in the deal, diplomats said Tuesday. The diplomats told The Associated Press that Tehran is still turning tons of raw uranium into uranium metal. The metal is a precursor of uranium hexafluoride - a substance that can then be used to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Reuters: Iran's decision to keep preparing raw uranium for enrichment, a step on the way to making nuclear weapons, breaks the spirit though not the letter of its pledge to freeze all such activity, diplomats say. Under a deal Iran reached with three EU nations to freeze all enrichment activity as of November 22, preparing "yellowcake" uranium for enrichment is strictly prohibited.
RFE/RL: Along with China and the United States, Iran has one of the highest execution rates in the world. In the last two decades, thousands of political prisoners, drug traffickers, and drug addicts have been executed in the Islamic Republic. In 2003, more than 100 executions were recorded in Iran. Human rights groups, however, say the real number of people put to death is much higher. "Unfortunately, every year there are some 300 to 400 executions in Iran ," said Abdolkarim Lahiji ...
BBC: The UN General Assembly has censured Iran for human rights violations, in a relatively close vote. By 71 votes to 54, with 55 abstentions, the assembly on Monday said Tehran restricted free speech, used torture, and persecuted dissenters. The resolution is not legally binding but is an expression of world opinion. Meanwhile, Amnesty International says it fears an Iranian woman convicted of adultery may be buried up to her chest and stoned to death on Tuesday.
Reuters: Iran will continue preparing raw "yellowcake" uranium for enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons, until the end of February, despite a recent pledge to freeze all such activity, diplomats said. "The Iranians have decided to continue UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) production until the end of February," a diplomat told Reuters. Two other diplomats in Vienna, where the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is based, confirmed the report.
AFP: A year after an earthquake killed 31,000 people in the southern Iranian city of Bam, thousands still need psychological help, the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies said Monday. The impact of the quake continues to manifest itself through "sleeping disorders, the inability to complete routine tasks, explosive behavior, domestic violence and a dramatic increase in drug dependence," said the IFRC.
The Norway Post: Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen has condemned the planned execution of the mentally retarded 19 year-old Leila M in Iran. Among other things, the girl has been accused of prostitution. Norway has sent a formal protest to Iran about the matter. A representative from the Iranian embassy in Oslo was on Monday summoned to the Foreign Office to receive the Norwegian protest.
United Press International: The U.N. General Assembly Monday expressed concern at continuing human rights violations in Iran on the reported eve of an execution by stoning. Non-governmental organizations said it was the 52nd time a body of the world organization condemned Tehran's human rights record.
Daily Telegraph: Iraqi officials fear that the big winner from next month's historic election will be its powerful neighbour and former enemy, Iran. The countries share a 1,000-mile border, stretching from the flat desert wastes and marshes of the south to the stark mountains of the north.
Reuters: The U.N. General Assembly has criticised Iran for public executions, torture, arbitrary sentencing, flogging, stoning and systematic discrimination against women. Sponsored by Canada, the human rights resolution was adopted on Monday by a vote of 71 in favour, 54 against with 55 abstentions in the 191-member assembly.
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AFP: President George W. Bush on Monday cautioned Iran and Syria not to interfere in Iraq's internal politics, saying the United States had a variety of ways to retaliate if the two countries failed to heed his warning. The message is the second within a week from the US president to Tehran and Damascus to refrain from "meddling" in Iraq.
Amnesty International: An Iranian woman charged with adultery faces death by stoning, reportedly by tomorrow (21 Dec) after her death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Her unnamed co-defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging. Amnesty International members are now faxing urgent appeals to the Iranian authorities, calling for the execution to be stopped. According to reports, Hajieh Esmailvand was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be followed by execution by stoning, for adultery with an unnamed man who at the time was a 17 year old minor.
Bloomberg: U.S. efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear weapons program through economic sanctions are being stymied by China's increasing reliance on the Islamic nation for oil. The U.S. has tried for more than a year to get the United Nations Security Council to impose restrictions that might deter Iran from building an atomic bomb; China, which holds one of five vetoes on the council, is threatening to block those attempts. At the same time, a decades-long U.S. economic embargo of Iran is being undermined by a growing China-Iran trade ...
Human Rights Watch: The Iranian judiciary is using threats of lengthy prison sentences and coerced televised statements in an attempt to cover up its arbitrary detention and torture of internet journalists and civil society activists, Human Rights Watch said today. Since September, more than 20 internet journalists and civil society activists have been arrested and held in a secret detention center in Tehran.
Aftenposten: Iran's ambassador to Norway refused to meet the local head of Amnesty International on Monday. Amnesty is among those taking up the case of a young, retarded Iranian who's been sentenced to death. The 19-year-old, known only as "Leyla M," was forced into prostitution by her own mother at the age of eight.
AFP: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused American and Israeli intelligence services of being behind the weekend's attacks in Najaf and Karbala which left 66 dead, state television reported on Monday. "I am certain that American and Israeli intelligence services are behind these events and that it is a plot aimed at distracting the Iraqis so that they miss the election." Khamenei said.