Iran and UN Head for Atomic Collision

Article excerpt

THE UN's nuclear watchdog last night moved towards hauling Iran before the Security Council in an attempt to stop it developing atomic bombs.

At a crunch meeting in Vienna yesterday, U.S.

and European Union leaders said Security Council involvement did not mean an end to diplomacy or that Tehran would necessarily face UN sanctions.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said: 'We are reaching a critical phase but it is not a crisis situation. It's about confidence-building and it is not about an imminent threat.' America's envoy to the agency warned that reporting Tehran to the Security Council was the only way to keep it from a 'dangerous path'.

But Iran claimed that such a move would be a 'historic mistake' and it threatened to end cooperation with nuclear inspectors. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: 'Nuclear energy is our absolute right.' Estimates of when Iran might be able to build an atomic bomb range between two and ten years.

America is concerned it will put the nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles that it already has.

Bush judge backs a stay on executions

AMERICA has taken a dramatic step towards halting the death penalty after new Supreme Court judge Samuel Alito broke ranks with his fellow conservatives and voted to stop an execution.

A day after he was sworn in by President Bush, Alito (pictured) sided with the majority to prevent the state of Missouri from executing by lethal injection rapist and murderer Michael Taylor. Ten days earlier the court stopped another execution while it considers whether lethal injection - the only method states now use - constitutes a 'cruel and unusual punishment'.

If the court decides it does, as seems more likely with Alito's vote in the Taylor case, it will end that form of execution. Experts rule out a return to the electric chair, gas chamber and hanging, which they say would all now be judged illegal.

Equitable victims win Brussels probe

ONE million Britons who lost out in the Equitable Life pension scandal were offered new hope yesterday with the opening of a European Parliament inquiry into the fiasco. …