Iran defied the UN on Tuesday by announcing that it had begun converting tonnes of uranium into the gas needed to turn the radioactive element into nuclear fuel. The world body's International Atomic Energy Agency called on Saturday for the country to suspend all such activities. \nIran's statement, made to reporters in Vienna by Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, put the country on a collision course with the US, which has lobbied vigorously for the agency to send Iran before the UN Security Council for its past breaches of the Nonproliferation Treaty. \n"Some of the amount of the 37 tonnes has been used," Aghazadeh was quoted as saying, referring to a quantity of yellowcake, or uranium oxide, which Iran had earlier indicated it planned to convert into gas. \n"The tests have been successful but these test have to be continued using the rest of the material," he said. \nAghazadeh, one of Iran's vice presidents, is attending a general conference of the Vienna-based atomic energy agency. \nWashington is certain to use any failure by Iran to abide by the agency's latest requests, made in a resolution passed by its 35-nation board of governors on Saturday, to push for Security Council referral when the board meets again on Nov. 25. \nIran, as a signatory of the nonproliferation treaty, has the right to convert uranium into a gas and to concentrate the fissile 235 isotope in that gas with high-speed centrifuges, a process known as enrichment. But the UN agency has used the threat of Security Council intervention for the country's past failings to pressure it to voluntarily stop all of the steps leading to the production of enriched uranium. \nUranium with a high enough concentration of the uranium-235 isotope can be used to fuel a nuclear reactor, but the enrichment process can easily be extended to produce higher concentrations of the isotope necessary for a nuclear bomb. \nThough Iran calls the 37 metric tonnes, or more than 40 tonnes, a test amount, experts say it will produce enough gas for enrichment into fissile material for several nuclear bombs. Iran argues that its uranium enrichment program is intended to produce low-enriched uranium for use in a nuclear power plant that it began building in the 1970s. But the US and other countries believe the program is part of an effort to develop nuclear weapons. \nIran has offered to accept any safeguards imposed by the UN agency to ensure its enrichment activities do not go beyond the 3.5 percent concentration of the uranium-235 isotope needed for its power plant. \nBut some US analysts warn that the international community has only a year or so left to stop the Iranian program from achieving self-sufficiency. After that, they warn, the country will have the means to create a nuclear arsenal without outside help, forever altering the Middle East balance of power. \nThe atomic energy agency is trying to force the country to voluntarily accept limits to its rights under the nonproliferation treaty without setting off an Iranian withdrawal from the accord. \nIran, however, says it is reluctant to accept such limits, arguing that such discrimination is specifically prohibited under the treaty and that accepting any such limits would set a dangerous precedent for other treaties that it has signed.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications