Iran has begun operating a facility for converting uranium, a key step towards enriching it for use as fuel or in a nuclear bomb, a spokeswoman for the UN nuclear watchdog said on Saturday. \nThe International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there was nothing controversial about the plant's opening and Tehran has said its nuclear program is solely for the peaceful generation of electricity. \n"We were informed in February that they were going to start uranium conversion at Isfahan in March," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said, adding that agency inspectors had arrived in Iran and would examine the site this week. \n"Conversion activities were not subject to suspension," Fleming said. \n"Iran has told us it has been operating on the basis of a test run," she added. \nIran first pledged to suspend activities related to uranium enrichment last November as a goodwill gesture while under intense US pressure to prove it was not seeking nuclear weapons. \nLast month Iran promised to suspend all "remaining enrichment activities" after Tehran sparked a row by interpreting the suspension in the narrowest possible sense. \nUranium conversion plants are key to the enrichment process. They convert uranium oxide concentrate into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is placed in centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium. \n"We are planning to inspect the Isfahan site this week," Fleming said. "The inspectors have arrived in Iran and they have already begun their work." \nTehran delayed the inspections in retaliation against a harshly-worded resolution on the Islamic republic. \nThe agency's inspectors had originally planned to leave for Iran on March 12 to visit Natanz and Isfahan, but Tehran cancelled the visit in response to an IAEA Board of Governors resolution, then in draft form. The Iranians later relented and said the IAEA could return on March 27. \nThe resolution, passed on March 13, "deplores" Iran's failure to inform the IAEA of potentially arms-related research, such as work on "P2" uranium-enrichment centrifuges, capable of making bomb-grade uranium. \nMeanwhile, Iran has set up a secret government committee overseeing efforts to conceal key elements of the country's nuclear program from international inspectors, The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday. \nCiting unnamed Western diplomats and an intelligence report, the newspaper said that if the cover-up is confirmed, it would bolster the US assertion that Iran is trying to hide a secret nuclear weapons program.
Sitting in a lotus position, four men weave glittering beads through gold thread on an organza sheet, carefully constructing a wedding dress that would soon wow crowds at Paris Fashion Week. For once, the French couturier behind the design, Julien Fournie, is determined to put these craftsmen in the spotlight. His new collection, which showed in Paris on Tuesday, was entirely made with fabrics from Mumbai. He said that a sort of “design imperialism” means that French fashion houses often play down that their fabrics are made outside France. “The houses which don’t admit it are perhaps afraid of losing their clientele,” Fournie
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
Over a few hours under gray skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of US military power in some of the world’s most hotly contested waters. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet jets bearing pilot call signs such as “Fozzie Bear,” “Pig Sweat” and “Bongoo” emit deafening screams as they land in the drizzle on the Nimitz, which is leading a carrier strike group that entered the South China Sea two weeks ago. US Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, who is commanding the group, said the tour
A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect in the latest mass shooting tragedy in an American community. Captain Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospitals and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people died at the scene in the city of Monterey Park. Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10:30 pm Saturday. He said officers then