Iran nuclear crisis
WASHINGTON -- Unless Iran executes a dramatic about-face and suspends all its nuclear activities, the U.N. Security Council will intervene "quite actively," a senior State Department official said Monday. The message to Iran is that it has "crossed the international red line" and engaged in unacceptable enrichment activity, "and there must be a U.N. Security Council process to deal with that," Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said. Burns did not say what the United States would ask the Security Council to do. While the Bush administration takes a stern line toward Tehran, it might not be able to persuade other nations to impose economic or other penalties on Iran. The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, which voted to refer the dispute to the Security Council, will reaffirm its stance this week in Vienna, Austria, "unless Iran does a dramatic about-face and suspends all of its nuclear activities," Burns said at the Heritage Foundation, a private research group. His remarks followed a State Department spokesman's dismissal of reports an eleventh-hour compromise might be struck over Iran's nuclear program. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, said at his agency's Vienna headquarters Monday that the council might not have to consider Iran's actions. Talks between Moscow and Tehran have focused on shifting Iran's fuel enrichment activities to Russia.
Hamas votes to stripAbbas of his new powers
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Hamas headed into a full-blown confrontation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, voting to strip him of powers he was hastily awarded by his Fatah Party in the last session of the outgoing parliament. In Gaza City, an Israeli missile strike killed two Islamic Jihad militants and three bystanders, including two young boys. The Hamas-Fatah conflict has been simmering since Hamas swept Fatah out of office in January parliamentary elections, ending four decades of unchallenged rule by the party of the late Yasser Arafat. Hamas has 74 seats in the new parliament and Fatah just 45, and the first order of business for Hamas was to cancel the powers the outgoing parliament gave to Abbas, the Fatah leader, authorizing him to cancel laws passed by the new parliament and appointing Fatah officials to key positions. In the West Bank administrative capital of Ramallah, Fatah delegates walked out, accusing Hamas of twisting the rules to weaken Abbas' authority. About 15 Fatah gunmen marched on parliament in Gaza City, firing into the air. The gunmen eventually headed to a Fatah meeting, where they demanded their party stay out of the government Hamas is setting up and threatened to kill any Fatah official who joined.
Sentencing phase beginsfor Sept. 11 conspirator
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Opening its argument that Zacarias Moussaoui be executed, the government asserted Monday that he "did his part as a loyal Al-Qaida soldier" and caused the deaths of nearly 3,000 people by failing to tell what he knew of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Moussaoui's defense countered that his dreams of being a terrorist were far removed from anything he could actually do, and that he had no part in the attacks. "That is Zacarias Moussaoui in a nutshell," said his court-appointed lawyer, Edward MacMahon. "Sound and fury signifying nothing." As Moussaoui stroked his beard and families of Sept. 11 victims watched on closed-circuit TV, prosecutor Rob Spencer evoked the horror of that day and laid blame on the only man charged in the United States in the attacks. "He lied so the plot could proceed unimpeded," Spencer asserted. "With that lie, he caused the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. He rejoiced in the death and destruction." He went on: "Had Mr. Moussaoui just told the truth, it would all have been different." A schoolteacher, a veteran of the first Gulf War and an Iranian-born Sunni Muslim woman are among the jurors who will decide whether Moussaoui is put to death or imprisoned for life.