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February 17, 2005 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-17

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sets off
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An explo-
sion was reported yesterday in southern
Iran near a nuclear power plant, with
state-run media offering conflicting
explanations for what happened, from
blasting for dam construction, a fuel
tank dropping from an Iranian plane,
and friendly fire.
The explosion came as Iran's intelli-
gence chief accused the United States of
flying spy drones over its nuclear sites
and threatened to shoot down the air-
craft. A spokesman for Iran's Interior
Ministry said the blast was heard min-
utes after an Iranian airplane flew over
the southwestern port town of Deylam,
about 110 miles north of the nuclear
plant, and had not been caused by a hos-
tile attack.
A top security official said the blast
came during construction of a dam,
state-run television reported.
"The explosion that occurred in Dey-
lam region was the result of detonating
a path for dam-building operations," Ali
Agha Mohammadi, a spokesman of the
Supreme National Security Council,
was quoted as saying.
Mohammadi said Iran's enemies
were not in a position to attack Iran.
"Such reports are mostly a psychologi-
cal war," he said.
Earlier, state television said the explo-
sion may have been caused by a fuel tank
dropping from an Iranian plane. Rescue
teams were sent to the area, state-run al-
Alam television said, without elaborating.
The Interior Ministry spokesman,
Jahanbakhsh Khanjani, said there was a
military base at Bushehr, and Iranian air
force planes routinely fly in that area.
"There is a big possibility that it was
a friendly fire by mistake. Several such
mistaken friendly fire incidents have been
reported there in recent days," he said.
Asked if military maneuvers were
taking place in the region, he deferred
to the Defense Ministry, whose officials
were not immediately available.
White House press secretary Scott
McClellan, asked if there was no U.S.
involvement in the incident in Iran,
replied: "That's correct."
CIA Director Porter Goss, at a Sen-
ate briefing, said, "I know nothing in my
official position."


Iraqi PM race goes to a secret ballot
Top Shiite politicians failed to reach a consensus yesterday on their nominee for
prime minister, shifting the two-man race to a secret ballot and exposing divisions in
the winning alliance. In a chilling reminder of challenges facing the winner, a video-
tape showed a sobbing Italian hostage pleading for her life.
After hours of closed-door meetings, members of the United Iraqi Alliance agreed
to hold a secret ballot to choose between Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi,.most
likely on tomorrow, said Ali Hashim al-Youshaa, one of the alliance's leaders. .
The contrast between the two candidates is stark and reveals a divisionwith-
in the clergy-endorsed alliance, made up of 10 major political parties and vari-
ous allied smaller groups.
Al-Jaafari, 58, is the leader of the religious Dawa Party, one of Iraq's oldest
parties, known for its popularity and close ties to Iran. Although al-Jaafari is a
moderate, his party's platform is conservative.
Chalabi, 58, who left Iraq as a teen, leads the Iraqi National Congress. and
had close ties to the Pentagon before falling out of favor last year after claiiis he
passed intelligence information to Iran.
BEIRUT, Lebanon
Mourners rally at funeral of fmr PM
Mourners holding banners saying "Syria Out!" crowded around the flag-draped
coffin of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and his family warned the pro-Damas-
cus government to stay away yesterday as hundreds of thousands of people turned his
funeral into a spontaneous rally against Syria.
Along the funeral route through downtown Beirut, the Lebanese flag was hung
from balconies and pictures were posted of Hariri, who was assassinated Monday
by a massive car bomb that also killed 16 others.
Angry mourners shouted insults at Syrian President Bashar Assad to "remove
your dogs from Beirut" - a reference to Syrian intelligence agents, part of an
overall contingent of 15,000 troops deployed here since 1976.
Suspicions over Syrian involvement in Hariri's death further charged
the atmosphere, and pressure mounted from abroad to find his killers, with
Washington recalling its ambassador from Syria and the U.N. Security Coun-
cil demanding justice.
Stocks decline despite Greenspan's testimony
Stocks slumped yesterday as investors listened to Federal Reserve Chairman
Alan Greenspan's remarks about the economy and monetary policy before the
Senate Banking Committee.
The Fed chairman struck a fairly positive tone about the economy as he deliyered
the Fed's twice-a-year economic outlook to lawmakers. Greenspan told Congiress
the economy was continuing to expand at a respectable pace. Inflation, while not an
immediate threat, remains something policy-makers must guard against, he said.
His remarks seemed to support the views of many economists that the Fed will
likely continue to raise interest rates at a gradual pace. The dollar firmed against
other currencies, gold declined and Treasuries weakened.
Bush warns of possible future terrorist attacks
Speaking with one voice, President Bush's top intelligence and mili-
tary officials said yesterday that terrorists are regrouping for possible new
strikes against the United States.
They said the best defense was for Congress to approve the president's
military and anti-terror budget. But some in Congress, including prominent
Republicans, were questioning some of that spending.
Offering few specifics on terror threats, Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld told a House hearing that the government could reasonably pre-
dict attacks would come from terrorism, weapons of mass destruction -and
other means.



- Compiled from Daily wire reports


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