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News Wrap: Iran Vows to Pursue Nuclear Program

November 9, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The president of Iran vowed today his country will continue down the nuclear path, but not with the aim of building weapons. The U.N. nuclear agency reported Tuesday that Iran is conducting tests to develop nuclear arms.

But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd in Tehran that Western powers are behind those claims.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, Iranian president (through translator): They accuse this nation of terror and building atomic bombs. We don’t need atomic bombs, and you truly know this. The Iranian nation is a wise nation and won’t make two bombs against your 20,000 bombs. We will build something you can’t respond to, and it is morality, ethics, believing in God and justice.

HARI SREENIVASAN: France called today for new sanctions on Iran, but Russia said it opposed that move. In Washington, a State Department spokesman said the U.S. is looking at a range of responses.

An earthquake hit Turkey tonight, killing at least three people and trapping more than 50 others when a hotel collapsed. The quake was a magnitude 5.7 and hit near the city of Van. At least a dozen buildings were destroyed, and rescue workers began scouring the rubble for survivors. It’s the second large quake to strike that region in three weeks.

The main opposition candidate in Liberia refused today to accept the results of a presidential runoff election. Winston Tubman boycotted Tuesday’s vote, claiming fraud in the first round. That guaranteed a win by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But voter turnout was as low as 25 percent and Tubman said he might launch a legal challenge.

President Obama has ordered U.S. government agencies to stop handing out swag, the coffee mugs, pens, T-shirts and other promotional items bought with taxpayer money. He said today it’s part of a broader effort to cut about $4 billion in spending.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It doesn’t replace the importance of the work that Congress needs to do in coming up with a balanced, bold plan to reduce our deficit, but it indicates once again that there are things that we can do right now that will actually deliver better government more efficiently, more consumer friendly, for less money.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Today’s executive order also imposes curbs on federal workers’ travel, laptop computers and cell phones.

Toyota has issued a worldwide recall for 550,000 vehicles with potential steering problems. The affected units are mostly in North America, from the 2004 through 2006 model years. They include the Camry, Highlander, Sienna, Solara, Avalon and three separate Lexus models. So far, there have been no reports of injuries. But it’s another blow to Toyota, after a string of major recalls going back to 2009.

Russian space scientists struggled today to salvage a $160 million probe to the Martian moon Phobos. It’s designed to dig up soil samples and return them to Earth. The unmanned spacecraft was launched overnight, but its onboard engines never fired, and it failed to break out of Earth’s orbit. That left engineers trying to reset the computer program. If they fail, the probe will crash to Earth, possibly within days, releasing tons of toxic fuel.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.