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Other News: Iran on Track for New Enrichment Plant

November 16, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news, the U.N. nuclear agency reported that Iran plans to open a uranium enrichment plant by 2011, and the head of French forces in Afghanistan narrowly escaped a rocket attack in Kabul.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today: The U.N. nuclear agency reported Iran plans to begin operations at a new plant for enriching uranium in 2011. The underground site had been secret until recently.

The report said, initially, the site could produce enough enriched uranium for one warhead a year. It also said the discovery of the plant raises questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities that Iran has not declared. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The head of French forces in Afghanistan escaped a rocket attack northeast of Kabul today. He was meeting with tribal elders when two rockets hit a nearby market. At least 12 Afghan civilians died. Dozens more were wounded.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government announced a new unit to fight corruption under mounting international pressure. U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry welcomed that news.

KARL EIKENBERRY, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan: Now, with the elections over, Afghanistan has an important opportunity to decide on new steps to meet the challenges ahead. As the judges, the prosecutors and the investigators that are here today know and have amply demonstrated in their daily work, fighting corruption is primarily a matter of willpower and of integrity.

JIM LEHRER: Published reports last week said Ambassador Eikenberry has warned against sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until the government confronts corruption.

In Iraq, police found 13 bullet-riddled bodies, apparently a revenge attack against Sunnis who fought al-Qaida. The bodies were recovered in a Sunni village west of Baghdad. Local officials said the attackers wore Iraqi army uniforms.

There was also fresh violence to the north. A car bomb tore through a market in Kirkuk, killing at least five people.

The prime minister of Australia has apologized to thousands of British orphans. Nearly 150,000 were sent to Britain’s colonies after World War II to ease pressure on social services. Many were beaten or sexually abused. Today, in Canberra, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd offered condolences to 7,000 of those children, now adults, who still live in Australia.

KEVIN RUDD, prime minister, Australia: We come together today to offer our nation’s apology, to say to you, the forgotten Australians and those who were sent to our shores as children without their consent, that we are sorry. Sorry that, as children, you were taken from your families and placed at institutions where, so often, you were abused.

JIM LEHRER: Rudd also apologized to thousands of so-called forgotten Australians. They include more than 500,000 Australian-born children abused in state care during the 20th century.

The rules on mammograms may be changing in a major reversal. A government medical task force announced today women should wait until age 50 to get the annual breast exams. It said starting at age 40, the standard for many years, causes too many false alarms and does more harm than good. The American Cancer Society sharply criticized the new guidelines.

The space shuttle Atlantis was launched today, on one of the last flights for the shuttle program. The six astronauts blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to begin 11 days in orbit. They will deliver a large load of spare parts for the International Space Station. Only six shuttle flights remain on the schedule. The fleet is scheduled to be retired in 2010.

In economic news, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke warned, the recovery may not be as strong as first hoped. In New York City, he pointed to a weak job market and tight credit, and said future setbacks are possible. Bernanke also pledged to watch the sliding U.S. dollar.

On Wall Street, commodity prices moved higher, and that helped energy and materials stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 136 points, to close just under 10407. The Nasdaq rose nearly 30 points, to close at 2197.