The seals on nuclear research facilities in Iran will be broken as soon as Monday and work in them will then resume, the Foreign Ministry announced. The official Islamic Republic News Agency said 90 percent of the questions related to the resumption of nuclear research had been cleared up with the International Atomic Energy Agency. But while a spokeswoman for the IAEA agreed that Iranian officials had supplied some of the information it sought over the weekend about the nuclear program, she said more details were desired. The Foreign Ministry dismissed concerns of Western governments over Iran's activities, saying "there is nothing to be worried about," although his government hid its activities from the IAEA for 18 years until they came to light in 2003. The US said resumption of nuclear work would show that Iran does not want a diplomatic solution to the matter.
Travel to Turkey was being discouraged after the results of medical tests raised the number of people there with the deadly strain of so-called bird flu to seven Sunday. Dozens of others who have been in recent contact with poultry were hospitalized with suspected symptoms of the virus. More than 30,000 birds have been culled by public health authorities, reports said, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan appealed to people who own chickens, ducks, and other fowl not to hide them, saying "losses will be compensated." But sellers complained that the government was paying as little as $5.25 for turkeys that normally fetch four times that much at market.
A request by UN investigators to interview Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in connection with the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister was rejected as "a violation of the principles of sovereignty." Assad flew to Saudi Arabia Sunday for an unscheduled meeting with King Abdullah, amid speculation that their governments were searching for a way to cooperate with the UN investigators that would not compromise Syrian sovereignty. Meanwhile, in a newspaper interview, Assad denied that he'd threatened Rafik Hariri when they met face to face before the latter died in a massive truck-bomb explosion in Beirut last Feb. 14. The blast also killed 21 others. Although the government in Damascus denies any involvement in the attack, senior Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies have been implicated in the UN probe of the attack.
Military forces denied imposing a ban on fishing by Tamils in Sri Lanka Sunday after the worst attack at sea since the government agreed to a cease-fire with separatist rebels four years ago. Thirteen members of the navy were killed the day before when suspected Tamil Tigers rammed their patrol ship with an explosives-laden fishing craft. Two other sailors survived the blast, which sank their vessel. The deaths brought the number of military deaths to 58 since a wave of attacks blamed on the rebels began Dec 4, raising concern that the two sides are fast sliding back toward full civil war. A naval spokesman said his units were only strictly enforcing fishing restrictions that are permitted under terms of the truce.
Temperatures dipped to below freezing in sections of India for the first time in 70 years as the cold wave affecting south and east Asia deepened Sunday. At least 116 people were reported dead from exposure in India, along with 20 in Bangladesh, where most villagers live in poorly insulated mud-and-thatch dwellings, and 63 more in Japan. Many of the victims in Japan were said to be elderly people attempting to shovel snow that has accumulated to depths of more than 10 feet in places. Meanwhile, authorities in China said 25 miles of the Yellow River were frozen and cattle were dying from the coldest winter in 20 years.