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>>IranThe IAEA announced yesterday that it had reached a “dead-end” in its efforts to ascertain whether there is a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, the agency reported that Iran had increased the number of centrifuges it operates by a factor of six since May and now had roughly 300kg of low enriched uranium, an amount that some analysts saw is half of what they’d need to produce a nuclear weapon. China called on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, but stopped short of joining those looking for new sanctions.

>>UkraineThe Ukraine’s governing coalition officially collapsed today due to infighting between President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Tymoshenko. In the next 30 days either a new coalition must be formed or elections will be held. There have been three such votes in three years. Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc pulled out of the coalition on September 3 after Tymoshenko joined with the pro-Russia opposition to curtail the powers of the President.

>>GeorgiaToday in Tblisi, NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that Georgia remains on a “trajectory” toward eventual membership, a move likely to keep tensions high with Russia. The NATO SG was in Tblisi along with the alliance’s 26 other ambassadors to inaugurate the NATO-Georgia commission. It is unclear whether Georgia will be given a “Membership Action Plan” when NATO meets in December.

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>>IraqOn the third day of negotiations, political leaders in Iraq may have come to an agreement allowing provincial elections to proceed this year. The solution was put forth by a representative from the UN, who suggested that the law should contain an article calling for a solution to the controversial Kirkuk issue before the end of October, essentially decoupling the issue from the legislation. If a deal is worked out today, the elections can be held this year.

>>Iraqi RefugeesThrough a resettlement program announced today by the UNHCR, some of Iraq’s most vulnerable refugees will be moved to Iceland and Sweden. The refugees affected by this effort are Palestinian, persecuted in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein primarily because of his support before being deposed.

>>RussiaAfter several days of fighting in South Ossetia, Russia stated today it will not stay on the sidelines if conditions worsen. South Ossetian separatists have claimed that Georgian troops are targeting civilians as they shell Tskhinvali.

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>>ZimbabwePresident Mugabe’s negotiators have left power-sharing talks in Pretoria to return to Zimbabwe for a fresh round of consultations, what most analysts have declared a sign of near collapse. The sticking point is over opposition leader Tsvangirai’s position in the new government. Mugabe’s negotiators are only authorized to offer him the vice presidency, a position the MDC finds untenable. There is no word on when or if talks will resume.

>>Pakistan/IndiaSoldiers from Pakistan and India engaged in a 12-hour gunfight last night, in what some have called the most “serious violation” of the ceasefire agreement in five years. India claims that the fighting was sparked by a raid by Pakistani soldiers that left an Indian soldier dead. Pakistan claims that Indian troops were attempting to build a post on Pakistan’s side. Some analysts have suggested that this may simply be an attempt by Pakistan’s military to grab power from the new government by making it look weak on national security.

>>AustraliaAustralia will no longer immediately detain asylum seekers who arrive without visas. This controversial policy had left many immigrants in jail for up to three years while their status was being resolved. The UN has censured Australia 14 times for the policy.

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>>SerbiaThe wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, who is wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity, was arrested in a Belgrade suburb yesterday (the Guardian has his rap sheet). On the run since 1996, Karadzic had been practicing alternative medicine in the open under an elaborate disguise. He had been under surveillance for a week after a tip from a “foreign intelligence agency.” He will be taken the the UN war crimes court in the Hague. Karadzic’s arrest was one of the preconditions for Serbian advancement toward EU membership.

>>ZimbabweZimbabwe’s ruling party and two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change begin negotiations today in Pretoria on a power-sharing deal. All parties signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday that committed them to two weeks of talks. It was the first time that Tsvangirai and Mugabe had met face-to-face in a decade. The NY Times thinks more pressure need be put on China, Russia, and South Africa by President Bush.

>>ChinaTwo public buses exploded yesterday morning in Kunming, killing at least two. It is not yet known whether the perpetrators are foreign or domestic. Many residents received a text message prior to the blasts warning them off public buses.

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>>SomaliaAt UN-led talks in Djibouti yesterday, Somalia’s government signed a three-month ceasefire with the Alliance for Re-Liberation of Somalia. The ceasefire does not include many of the armed groups currently fighting the government and has been rejected by leader of the Union of Islamic Courts, Hassan Dahir Aweys. The agreement envisages the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops and their replacement by UN peacekeepers.

>>ChinaYesterday, soldiers in Sichuan blasted away debris and allowed the Tangjiashan quake lake to drain, destroying the uninhabited town of Beichuan, which authorities had already planned to rebuild elsewhere. The water level in the lake fell by over 20 meters, a “decisive victory” according to Sichuan party chief Liu Qibao.

>>South KoreaMassive street protests, sparked by a deal to widen the South Korean market to U.S. beef, caused South Korea’s entire cabinet to offer to resign yesterday. Concern over mad cow disease has opened the door to general discontent with President Lee’s six-month-old government. Lee plans to reshuffle his government later this week.

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>>Syria
The International Atomic Energy Agency announced
yesterday that Syria’s government will allow nuclear inspectors visit the site bombed by Israel in September 2007.
Syria has denied that the site was a nuclear reactor, but many
including the U.S. government believe otherwise. Soon after the
attack, Syria wiped the site clean and began rebuilding a new
structure, steps that investigators say will complicate their work.
The visit will occur June 22 to 24.

>>North
Korea
Yesterday, an external
panel cleared the UN Development program of any
wrongdoing in North Korea and dismissed “without merit” the allegations
of a former contract employee who claimed to have been negatively
affected after blowing the whistle on the agency. These findings echo
those of a U.S. Senate subcommittee released this January. The
central allegation was that UNDP spent $2.7 million in hard currency
in North Korea that then ended up in the hands of entities suspected
of money laundering and arms dealing.

>>PakistanEight were killed and 25 injured yesterday in Islamabad when a car bomb exploded outside the Danish embassy, the second attack targeting foreigners in the last few months. Pakistan’s government recently signed a series of peace deals with Islamic militants in tribal areas.

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