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Archive for Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Briefly

October 20, 2004

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Spain

Arrests thwart plot to blow up courthouse

Spanish authorities said Tuesday they disrupted a plot by a cell of Islamic radicals to blow up a Madrid court complex that serves as the home for the country's top anti-terrorism investigators and judges.

Police arrested eight suspects in six different cities on Monday and Tuesday in an effort to break up the cell, which was composed primarily of people with criminal records, according to statements released by the Spanish Interior Ministry.

Authorities carried out searches in several locations across Spain but said they did not find any explosives or signs that an attack was imminent. Investigators also said they found no evidence to suggest that the alleged plotters were connected with the train bombings in Madrid in March that killed 191 people.

The cell included four Algerians and one Moroccan. The Interior Ministry said some members of the group had been in touch recently with individuals in other European countries, as well as the United States and Australia.

Myanmar

Prime minister removed from office

Myanmar's tough but pragmatic prime minister was sacked Tuesday by his hardline army colleagues, clouding prospects for the freedom of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and for democracy in the military-led Southeast Asian nation.

Khin Nyunt, a general who also headed Myanmar's powerful military intelligence organization, was placed under house arrest and charged with corruption, according to Thai officials, regional analysts and Burmese exiles with contacts inside the country.

He was replaced by Soe Win, an army lieutenant general reported to have been involved in the May 2003 attack on supporters of Suu Kyi, which killed scores, perhaps more than 100.

State television and radio in the nation formerly known as Burma announced on the evening news that Khin Nyunt had been allowed to retire for health reasons -- a phrase used in the past as a euphemism for the dismissal of Cabinet members.

China

U.S. likely to sell nuclear reactors

The Bush administration is likely to permit China to buy U.S.-designed state-of-the-art nuclear reactors within several months if it so desires, the top American nuclear regulator said Tuesday.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Nils J. Diaz said he saw no significant opposition to the sale before a full commission vote "within the next couple of months."

China, hobbled by energy shortages, has said it'll spend $8 billion to purchase four foreign nuclear reactors in what's expected to be the world's most ambitious nuclear power-construction program.

China plans to double its nuclear capacity by the year 2020, a goal that may require it to build as many as 32 large 1,000-megawatt reactors. China has 11 reactors in use or under construction, providing barely 2 percent of its annual energy needs, far less than the 16 percent average reliance on nuclear energy in developed countries.

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