N. KOREA'S IAEA PULLOUT STIRS CONCERN The United States, South Korea, and Japan - the prime backers of sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program - all voiced strong concern June 14 over the North's announcement that it would pull out of the UN nuclear-watchdog group. The North's plan to quit the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced June 13, would make it virtually impossible to check whether North Korea is complying with an international nuclear-arms-control pact it signed in 1985. The IAEA, based in Vienna, said June 14 that North Korea had not officially communicated its intention to withdraw from the 120-member organization. Meanwhile, in an abrupt about-face, South Korea's government scaled back plans for a civil-defense drill, because it does not want to fan war fears on the already volatile peninsula. BCCI founder sentenced
The founder of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International and his top aide were among 12 former BCCI executives convicted June 14 on fraud charges in the United Arab Emirates. Founder Agha Hasan Abedi along with Ziauddin Ali Akbar, BCCI's former treasurer, were tried in absentia. Mr. Akbar is serving a prison term in Britain on charges related to the BCCI scandal, which broke in 1991 and led to the collapse of the banking empire with branches in 69 countries. Exxon, Hazelwood reckless
A federal jury has opened the way for victims of the Exxon Valdez disaster to seek $15 billion in punitive damages from Exxon Corporation and skipper Joseph Hazelwood, ruling their recklessness led to the nation's worst oil spill. The more than 10,000 fishermen, Alaska natives, and property owners who are suing claim that Mr. Hazelwood was drunk the night of the spill and that Exxon knew about his drinking problem.
European deal for Sprint
The German and French state telephone companies announced a deal June 14 to invest in Sprint Corporation and join with the American company in a global telecommunications operation. Telekom of Germany and France Telecom, the two top telecommunications companies of those countries, said they would split a $4.2 billion investment to jointly buy a 20 percent stake in Sprint. US consumer prices
US consumer prices edged up a modest 0.2 percent in May as falling gasoline prices and the biggest drop in airline fares in 25 years helped to offset rising food costs, the government said June 14. The small advance in the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index followed an even tinier 0.1 percent advance in April as inflation continued to be well-behaved.