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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Medieval East

Nuclear Cloud Cast Over Iran
By Christian Oliver reporting from Tehran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran's intentions are peacefulThe US went nuclear today, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a televised address on Tuesday that had produced low-grade enriched uranium suitable for power stations and wanted to achieve industrial-scale production, setting itself on a collision course with the West.

The United Nations has said Iran must halt uranium enrichment, a process Western nations fear Tehran wants to master so that it can develop nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its aims are entirely peaceful.

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A Western diplomat said it was possible Iran was "putting on this drama to step back", but said this was still speculation. "It's totally the wrong signal," the diplomat added.

"They can say, 'we reached our rights, we reached our goals and it is not necessary to continue any more because we are able to do the job.' This is my guess," political analyst Saeed Laylaz said.

Reflecting anxiety about the nuclear dispute, investors shifted into the safe-haven Swiss franc after Iran's announcement, traders confided. The nuclear dispute has also been a factor helping to push up oil prices to record levels.

Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it will start installing 3,000 centrifuges later this year, enough to produce material for a warhead in a year.

Israel, a country which the Iranian President has said should be wiped out, have yet to comment. Ahmadinejad has also made comments that the Nazi holocaust was a myth.


We are Losing Iraq

Mr Pax says he would need a permit to visit the Kurdish city of HalabjaThree years after US forces symbolically toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi capital, 'Baghdad blogger' Salam Pax says things look bleaker than ever for his country.

"One of the tragedies of this ongoing war is that no one knows how many Iraqi lives have been lost.

"And those of us who have survived so far now risk losing our country," he told BBC Newsnight.

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Baghdad resident Mr Pax came to prominence documenting the Iraq war from an Iraqi perspective on his weblog.

In taking stock of the situation three years on from the symbolic felling of the statue, Mr Pax says he is "more negative about the future than ever".

He talked of many Iraqis having bad experiences with the occupying forces, and that the Iraqi identity had been eroded by what some see as Bush's private war.

Mr Pax says the country has become so deeply divided that any sense of national identity has been eroded.

"I have a Sunni name from my father but my mother is a Shia and we are all Arabs.

"If I want to visit the Shia south I feel safer when using my mother's name. I am not very welcome in the Kurdish north because I'm Arab; in fact I need a permit just to go there.

"All these are labels and all I want to be is an Iraqi - but there doesn't seem to be such a thing any more."

<< Read about the War In Iraq


Isareli Attacks in Gaza Step Up

Injured survivors attended the funeral of child victim Hadil GhrabenIsrael has said it will intensify its artillery bombardment of the Gaza Strip to deter rocket attacks by Palestinian militants on its territory.

Officials said they regretted the recent deaths of a number of Palestinian civilians but were set on stopping the rocket attacks.

People gathered in a clearing next to an olive grove on Tuesday to mourn Hadil Ghraben, an eight-year-old girl killed by a shell on Monday.

She was the 16th Palestinian to die in Israeli air and artillery attacks on Gaza in the past four days.

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She was watching television in her house in the northern village of Beit Lahiya on 11 April when an Israeli shell came crashing through the roof, killing her instantly.

This comes alongside news of the inquest into the death of a Briton shot dead by an Israeli soldier that has ruled he was "intentionally killed". Tom Hurndall was shot 11 April 2003, three years to the day a shell claimed the life of eight-year-old Hadil Ghraben.

But the verdict is unlikely to quell the debate about who was to blame.

Mr Hurndall, a 22-year-old journalism and photography student, went to Gaza to act as a human shield with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

Days later he was hit in the forehead by a bullet, fell into a coma and died nine months afterwards in January 2004.

There are thousands of cases out there where people don't have the weight behind them that we have: Sophie HurndallMr Hurndall's sister Sophie believes senior officers all the way up to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon are responsible for a culture within the Israeli Defence Force that effectively allows the killing of civilians.

Many people still remember the shooting of another Briton in Gaza, film maker James Miller, 34, from Devon, shot in "cold-blood" by a soldier from the Israeli Defence Force, while making a film in a Palestinian refugee camp in 2003.

Ms Hurndall also believes the trial has only happened because of pressure from the family, and the fact the victim is a Westerner.

"We have forced the Israeli army to prosecute this soldier, but there are thousands of cases out there where people don't have the weight behind them that we have."


The Lost Words of a Holocaust
By Andrew Joynes for BBC News

At least 50,000 people died in Bergen-Belsen before liberationNext week sees the 61st anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, the first of the Nazi death camps to be reached by British and American troops at the end of World War II.

At least 50,000 people died in Bergen-Belsen before liberation During the last few months, Andrew Joynes has been piecing together the story of one man who survived the camp and whose story is now being told at the new memorial centre at Belsen.

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Letters in German, dated August 1944 and March 1945 have been found written by Anton lgel, a prisoner writing from Belsen's hut No 3 to his mother in Cologne asking for news of his family.

At about the time Anton Igel was writing his letter, in March l945, one of his fellow-prisoners at Belsen, Anne Frank, was dying of typhus just a few hundred yards away from hut No 3.

Both he and she were able to tell something of their stories.

For most of the Belsen dead, there is no such means of telling a story.

Tens of thousands lie buried in the mass graves beside the pillar which points at the sky in commemoration and reproach.

Their message is in their silence.

All pictures courtesy of BBC News online

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