News Wrap: U.N. Team Says Iran Trip Yielded Little Nuclear Knowledge
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KWAME HOLMAN: A team from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency ended a two-day mission to Iran today with little to show. The goal had been to discover whether Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon.
But the delegation’s head said talks with Iranian officials failed to yield any significant progress. He spoke in Vienna.
HERMAN NACKAERTS, deputy director general, International Atomic Energy Agency: We discussed the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. We also tried to get access to a site that is relevant for our investigations.
So we approached this trip in a very — in a constructive spirit.
Unfortunately, we could not get agreement on either of them. So we could not get access. We could not finalize a way forward.
KWAME HOLMAN: The nuclear agency’s board will have to decide on its next step when it meets early in March.
Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, today his country is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons. He called them useless, harmful and dangerous.
The Fitch rating agency downgraded its rating for Greece’s debt again today, despite the new eurozone bailout package. And Wall Street closed lower, partly over concerns about Greece. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 27 points to close at 12,938. The Nasdaq fell 15 points to close at 2,933.
President Obama called today for cutting the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent. His plan would replace the lost revenue by eliminating dozens of existing tax loopholes. It also would set a minimum tax on overseas earnings of U.S. firms to encourage them to bring those revenues home.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the plan should have broad appeal.
JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: We believe that the reception so far has been positive and will be positive, because it does what so many people say is important to do, which is — and this is Democrats and Republicans — which is lower the rate, broaden the base, eliminate the underbrush of unnecessary subsidies and loopholes and special provisions that complicate the tax code.
KWAME HOLMAN: Immediate Republican reaction to the plan was mixed. And it’s viewed as unlikely Congress would take up a major tax overhaul before the fall elections.
Nearly 50 people were killed in Argentina today when a commuter train crashed at a Buenos Aires station. At least 600 others were injured. Officials said the train was packed with morning riders and going too fast when it smashed into a barrier at the end of the platform.
Emergency workers rushed to treat the injured, and to free those trapped inside the crushed cars. It was Argentina’s worst rail accident since 1970.
Divers searching the wreck of a cruise ship off Northern Italy have found eight more bodies. Authorities said today one was that of a 5-year-old Italian girl. The Costa Concordia had some 4,200 passengers and crew on board when it hit a reef in mid-January. It listed badly and settled on its side. In all, 25 bodies have been found. Seven people remain missing.
A major study confirmed today that having a colonoscopy can save lives. It found that removing pre-cancerous growths during the exams can cut in half the risk of dying of colon cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. The research was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.