THE MOTHER OF ALL BACKDOWNS
US TO ALLOW IRAN TO ENRICH URANIUM, MAY EVEN SUPPLY NEW TECHNOLOGY TO "WORLD'S LEADING SPONSOR OF TERRORISM"
From the Washington Post : The confidential diplomatic package backed by Washington and formally presented to Iran on Tuesday leaves open the possibility that Tehran will be able to enrich uranium on its own soil, U.S. and European officials said.
That concession, along with a promise of U.S. assistance for an Iranian civilian nuclear energy program, is conditioned on Tehran suspending its current nuclear work until the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency determines with confidence that the program is peaceful.
U.S. officials said Iran would also need to satisfy the U.N. Security Council that it is not seeking a nuclear weapon, a benchmark that White House officials believe could take years, if not decades, to achieve.
But the Bush administration and its European allies have withdrawn their demand that Iran abandon any hope of enriching uranium for nuclear power, according to several European and U.S. officials with knowledge of the offer.
The new position, which has not been acknowledged publicly by the White House, differs significantly from the Bush administration's stated determination to prevent Iran from mastering technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons."We are basically now saying that over the long haul, if they restore confidence, that this Iranian regime can have enrichment at home," said one U.S. official...
CLAIM : US FIELD COMMANDERS TELL PENTAGON THE WAR ON IRAQ "IS LOST"
Military commanders in the field in Iraq admit in private reports to the Pentagon the war "is lost" and that the U.S. military is unable to stem the mounting violence killing 1,000 Iraqi civilians a month.
Even worse, they report the massacre of Iraqi civilians at Haditha is "just the tip of the iceberg" with overstressed, out-of-control Americans soldiers pushed beyond the breaking point both physically and mentally.
"We are in trouble in Iraq," says retired army general Barry McCaffrey. "Our forces can't sustain this pace, and I'm afraid the American people are walking away from this war."
UKRAINE ACCUSES RUSSIA OF FERMENTING NEW "CRIMEA WAR"
Ukraine has accused Russia of stirring up anti-US and anti-Nato protests on the Crimean peninsula where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based.
The allegation...follows a week of anti-Nato protests in Crimea that appear to have caught the government unawares.
Emotions are running high ahead of a multinational military exercise on the peninsula, called Sea Breeze, due to begin in July.
Coaches carrying US Marine reservists have been stoned, the Ukrainian Socialists have demanded the resignation of the Defence Minister, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, and Russian MPs have called for Crimea to be taken away from Ukraine and incorporated into Russia.
The dispute comes as Ukrainian politicians are struggling to form a coalition government more than two months after the election that confirmed the country's apparently irreparable split into pro-Russian and pro-Western camps.
CLAIM : TURKEY SHELLING KURD AREAS INSIDE IRAQ - MASSIVE TROOP BUILD UP
Iraqi security forces are trying to stop PKK fighters based in mountainous and mainly Kurdish northern Iraq from crossing over the border into Turkey.
Ankara has asked U.S. and Iraqi forces to crack down on PKK units based inside Iraq. Turkey has sent 40,000 troops to its own Kurdish areas to reinforce the 220,000 already there, the biggest build-up in years after an increase in PKK attacks.
The PKK, seeking a Kurdish homeland including southeastern Turkey, accuses Ankara and Tehran of mounting coordinated operations against the group and its Iranian wing, PJAK.
In early May, villagers in Iraq's Kurdistan accused neighbouring Iran of hitting targets inside Iraq, a charge Tehran denied.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN EAST ASIA : PAKISTAN BLAMES INDIA FOR ITS EXTENSIVE ATOM BOMB PROGRAM
Pakistan on Sunday defended its nuclear weapons programme by putting the blame on India.
Referring to India as "somebody else," General Ehsan-ul-Haq, Chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), said at a plenary session of the Asia Security Summit here that Islamabad "did not introduce nuclear weapons into South Asia."
When a participant asked him about A. Q. Khan's clandestine nuclear arms proliferation activities, Gen. Ehsan-ul-Haq described these as "a sordid tale."
Maintaining that "decisive" action was initiated against A. Q. Khan, despite his status in Pakistan as "a hero" of its nuclear arms programme, the JCSC Chairman sought to present "another story" about the country's strategic choice.
"We did not siphon off nuclear materials from internationally provided nuclear facilities. Somebody else did that. We didn't re-test nuclear weapons in South Asia in 1998. Somebody else did that. We didn't test nuclear weapons even for 24 years after 1974. And, even before 1974, [we] kept on drawing the attention [of the international community] to what was about to happen. We have [had] some legitimate security concern."
Describing the situation in 1974, he said: "Pakistan had been divided only three years earlier through the use of force and foreign intervention."
BRITAIN, 14 EUROPEAN NATIONS ACCUSED OF AIDING US/CIA 'RENDITION' TRANSPORTS OF SUSPECTED TERRORISTS
Britain was named today as one of 14 European countries which colluded with the CIA in the operation of secret flights delivering terrorist suspects for interrogation.
They include Britain, Germany, Spain, and Turkey, who co-operated in the running of so-called "rendition" flights - the covert transport of prisoners for questioning in countries where, it is claimed, many faced torture.
...European governments were almost certainly aware of the CIA's secret prisoner flights via European airspace or airports.
Now, at the end of a seven-month inquiry, the final report says it is now clear that "authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities".The paper said the CIA had been running interrogation centres in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and Thailand, and that more than 100 people had been sent to the so-called "black sites" since they were set up following the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on America.
...suspicions remain of secret CIA detention centres in Romania and Poland - allegations both countries have denied.
Washington has never denied moving terrorist suspects to other countries for questioning, but does deny allegations of torture, and of deliberately picking centres in eastern Europe and beyond, outside the US human rights jurisdiction.
ITALIAN FORCES PULLING OUT OF IRAQ : LAST SOLDIER TO LEAVE BY CHRISTMAS
The new Italian administration today confirmed all Italian troops would withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year.
Italy's foreign minister, Massimo D'Alema, said the government would start reducing the number of troops in Iraq this month and the Italian military presence in Iraq would end by December.
He said: "We believe the Italian military mission in Iraq is moving towards its end. During the coming months, military forces will return to their country."
It is the first time a minister from the newly elected centre-left government has given a timetable for the pullout of Italy's 2,700 troops.
In his first policy speech since being sworn in, (new Prime Minister Prodi) criticised Anglo-American policy, calling the invasion of Iraq a "grave mistake" and branding the allied military presence an "occupation".
The departure of Italian troops from Iraq would further weaken a coalition that has been hostage to anti-war sentiment in Europe as well as financial constraints.
Ukraine withdrew all of its troops from Iraq at the end of last year, and Poland, which was once one of the largest military contributors, has also cut its contingent. Several other smaller forces have also been withdrawn.
Italian forces have suffered 32 deaths in Iraq.
BAGHDAD DEATH TOLL ESTIMATED TO BE FAR MORE THAN 6000 PEOPLE SLAUGHTERED IN FIVE MONTHS
The bodies of 6,000 people, most of whom died violently, have been received by Baghdad's main mortuary so far this year, health ministry figures show.
The number has risen every month, to 1,400 in May.
The majority are believed to be victims of sectarian killings. But observers say the real death toll could be much higher.
NIGERIAN MILITANTS STAGE BLOODY RAID ON OIL FACILITIES, KIDNAP FIVE
An unidentified armed group in Nigeria kidnapped five South Korean workers at an island near Port Harcourt, an oil producing region in southern Nigeria...
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed that they abducted the Koreans...
Since the mid-1990s, a number of militant groups in oil-producing areas have challenged the Nigerian government by abducting foreign workers, citing political alienation and economic exploitation.
The Korean workers was raided for around 1 hour from 11:30 p.m., local time, by militants who fired rockets from a boat to the gas gathering plant operated by Daewoo Engineering and Construction...
Thirteen Nigerian soldiers tried to deter the attack but failed to safeguard the Korean workers, apparently due to the inferiority of their forces...Twenty-seven similar cases happened in the same area since January 2005.
A Reuters Timeline of Militants' Attacks On Nigerian Oil Facilities