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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Iran Agrees to Continue Negotiating, May Allow Snap Inspections

Iran and the P5+1 countries ended a second day of talks in Geneva and agreed to carry on negotiations over the country’s nuclear programme in early November. One Iranian official told the BBC that the country could allow surprise visits to its nuclear sites as a “last step” in a proposal to solve differences with the West and economic sanctions, as well as an agreement to lower the level of uranium enrichment at its plants. Diplomats at the negotiating table noted that Iran had made much more concrete proposals than in the past and were concerned about news leaks. “Negotiation and reaching a solution is difficult and needs a lot of time and care. One cannot expect to remove the mistrust that has been accumulated between the two sides only by a positive and completely constructive meeting”, said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “Are we there yet? No, but we need to keep talking“, said a Western diplomat to the Reuters news agency.

PM Says Guardian Should Be Investigated

British Prime Minister David Cameron has told Parliament that one of its committees should investigate whether the Guardian broke the law or damaged national security by publishing the information leaked by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden. Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron said that “the plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and cabinet secretary to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files. So they know that what they’re dealing with is dangerous for national security. I think it’s up to select committees in this house if they want to examine this issue and make further recommendations”. The newspaper had in fact notified the government that the destruction of the files in its possession would be useless because copies of them existed outside the UK. “I explained to British authorities that there were other copies in America and Brazil so they wouldn’t be achieving anything”, said the Guardian’s editor in chief, Alan Rusbridger. “But once it was obvious that they would be going to law I preferred to destroy our copy rather than hand it back to them or allow the courts to freeze our reporting”, he added.

Prisoners Lose Right to Vote Case, UK Blanket Ban Upheld

Two inmates have lost their appeal to win the right to vote after the UK Supreme Court dismissed their case. Convicted murderers Peter Chester and George McGeoch had argued that a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which said that it was up to individual countries to rule which inmates could vote and that a blanket ban was illegal, gave them the right to vote. Lord Sumption said that the loss of the right to vote was “a very minor deprivation” if compared to the loss of liberty. Lady Hale, president of the court, said that “prisoners’ voting is an emotive subject. Some people feel very strongly that prisoners should not be allowed to vote and public opinion polls indicate that most people share that view”. Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the court’s decision, having earlier said that the idea of giving inmates the vote made him “physically sick”.

Meteorite Pulled from Russian Lake

Russian divers have recovered a 570 kilogram section of a meteorite that injured more than 1,000 people in February when it exploded in the atmosphere from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul. Russian media said the divers were hampered by the lake’s extremely muddied waters, which lowered visibility and also by the lake’s muddy bed, which had in fact buried the fragments and delayed the operation by 10 days. Earlier attempts at raising the fragment had failed in September. “The preliminary examination shows that this is really a fraction of the Chelyabinsk meteorite. It’s got thick burn-off, the rust is clearly seen and it’s got a big number of indents. This chunk is most probably one of the top ten biggest meteorite fragments ever found”, said Sergey Zamozdra, associate professor at the Chelyabinsk State University.

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