Lawmaker: Iran Shot Down Unmanned US Spy Plane
AP – July 20, 2011
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane that was trying to gather information on an underground uranium enrichment site, a state-owned news site said Wednesday. Lawmaker Ali Aghazadeh Dafsari said the drone was flying over the Fordo uranium enrichment site near the holy city of Qom in central Iran, the state TV-run Youth Journalists Club said.
Sanctions spark Iran currency fluctuations
Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times – July 20, 2011
International sanctions imposed because of Iran’s nuclear programme are causing fluctuations in the local currency market as a shortage of foreign exchange bites, economists say. One US dollar bought IR11,640 on Wednesday on the open market, down from IR12,000 a month ago, although this was higher than the IR10,700 at the beginning of the year.
France condemns Iran nuclear move
Anna Fifield, Financial Times – July 20, 2011
Iran has claimed it is installing new high-tech uranium enrichment centrifuges to hasten progress in its nuclear programme, a move that France has condemned as a “clear provocation” as the Islamic republic continues to defy international sanctions. Tehran’s claim on Tuesday that it had installed “new centrifuges with better quality and speed” will inflame fears in the west that Iran was making good on its promise to build new secret enrichment facilities to make weapons-grade uranium.
Iran’s central bank launches poll on changing name of national currency
Associated Press – July 16, 2011
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s central bank is asking citizens their opinions on new names for the country’s currency. Visitors to the bank’s website can choose from several names, including rial — the current name — toman, parsi and derik. In the online survey, the bank also asks respondents how many zeros should be removed from the currency. The government has proposed lopping off four zeros.
S. Korea seeks ARF statement on N. Korea’s uranium program
Yonhap – July 20, 2011
SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) — South Korea is trying to convince Asia’s biggest security gathering this week to adopt a statement expressing concern about North Korea’s uranium enrichment program and prodding the North to prove by action its denuclearization commitment, officials said Wednesday. Top diplomats of 27 Asia-Pacific nations are scheduled to meet in Bali, Indonesia, on Saturday for an annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that brings together North Korea and all other key players on security issues.
China, North Korea: Unlikely friends
Sunny Lee, Asia Times – July 21, 2011
BEIJING – An estranged couple in the middle of a divorce who smile and hold hands to keep up appearances for the cameras was how pundits used to describe the alliance between the United States and South Korea during the George W Bush and Roo Moo-hyun administrations and their opposing approaches to North Korea. A similar description serves well to characterize ties between China and North Korea, which just celebrated the 50th anniversary of their “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance”.
Afghanistan: Taliban Deny Reports of Leader’s Death, Citing Hacking
Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times – July 20, 2011
Taliban spokesmen denied reports sent through their e-mail and in text messages early Wednesday that their movement’s leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, was dead, saying that their Web sites and telephones had been hacked.
Afghanistan’s Last Locavores
Patricia McArdle, New York Times – July 19, 2011
MANY urban Americans idealize “green living” and “slow food.” But few realize that one of the most promising models for sustainable living is not to be found on organic farms in the United States, but in Afghanistan. A majority of its 30 million citizens still grow and process most of the food they consume. They are the ultimate locavores. During the 12 months I spent as a State Department political adviser in northern Afghanistan, I was dismayed to see that instead of building on Afghanistan’s traditional, labor-intensive agricultural and construction practices, the United States is using many of its aid dollars to transform this fragile agrarian society into a consumer-oriented, mechanized, fossil-fuel-based economy.
Pakistan’s Military Plotted to Tilt U.S. Policy, F.B.I. Says
Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt, New York Times – July 19, 2011
WASHINGTON — Pakistan’s military, including its powerful spy agency, has spent $4 million over two decades in a covert attempt to tilt American policy against India’s control of much of Kashmir — including funneling campaign donations to members of Congress and presidential candidates, the F.B.I. claimed in court papers unsealed Tuesday. The allegations of a long-running plan to influence American elections and foreign policy come at a time of deep tensions between the United States and Pakistan