Iran has removed U.N. seals from one of its nuclear facilities, setting the stage for a confrontation with the West over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. The deputy head of Iran's nuclear agency (Mohammad Saeedi) told reporters in Tehran today (Tuesday) that research work at the (Natanz) plant has resumed, but that no nuclear fuel is being produced. (Melissa Fleming) A spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has confirmed that I.A.E.A. inspectors were present when Iranian officials removed seals at the plant in central Iran.
A Chinese court has sent three farmers to prison for a battle with police last year that began as a protest against pollution and land confiscation. A defense lawyer (Wei Rujiu) says prison terms ranging from one to five years were handed down to the three men for their actions during the protest in June (at Huaxi) near Dongyang city, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. The court (in Lanxi) ordered the heaviest sentence for the youngest of the principal defendants (29-year-old Liu Huirong) who was charged with assaulting a policeman.
Australia says it will send another 110 troops to Afghanistan to boost the fight against Taleban and al-Qaida militants. The additional troops will support 190 Australian special forces already serving in Afghanistan. Australia also will send two Chinook transport helicopters to assist the troops with medical evacuations. Defense Minister Robert Hill says Australia is sending the reinforcements as part of its commitment to fight terrorism. The additional troops will (arrive in February and) remain in Afghanistan until September.
Dozens of protesters in northern Thailand broke through police barricades around a hotel today (Tuesday), where U.S. and Thai officials are negotiating a free trade agreement. Thousands of demonstrators protested in the northern city of Chiang Mai to voice their opposition to a trade deal. A group of protesters pushed through a security cordon and made it as far as the hotel's main gate. They threatened to break up the talks if their demands are not heard. The protesters fear a free trade deal will raise the cost of AIDS medications and drive Thai farmers out of business.
China's official media say passenger car sales in China rose sharply in 2005, growing by more than 26 percent from the previous year. The Shanghai Daily cited the Union of National Passenger Car Market Information as saying automakers sold more than three-point-two million passenger cars last year. In 2004, it says the rate of sales increased by around 15 percent.
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