The governor of Japan’s Fukushima prefecture is planning to call on the operator of the crippled Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant to decommission all nuclear reactors in the prefecture, NHK reports. Governor Yuhei Sato told reporters on Wednesday that the prefecture will ask Tokyo Electric Power Company to shut down the remaining reactors. The north-eastern region hosts a total of 10 nuclear reactors, including six at the Fukushima-1 plant, four of which were crippled in the disastrous earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Jordan has condemned Tuesday’s attack on the UK embassy in Tehran. Jordan’s Foreign Ministry stressed the importance of preserving the security of all diplomatic missions across the world. It also said that Iran should shoulder its legal responsibilities in this regard. Britain has cut all diplomatic ties and withdrawn all staff from the embassy in Tehran following the incident. It has also set a 48-hour deadline for Iranian diplomats to leave the UK. Britain’s allies in the EU are following suit.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has described Britain's move to close the country’s embassy in London as "hasty". The ministry representative added “further appropriate action” will be taken. “The hasty move was done to cover up previous crimes of America and Britain while the police did all they could to keep the peace," Ali Larijani told parliament in an address broadcast live on state radio.
Laurent Gbagbo, the former Ivorian president has been taken into custody by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He faces charges of murder, rape and other crimes allegedly committed by his supporters as he rose to power after elections in 2010. Gbagbo, aged 66, is the first ex-head of state arrested by the court since its establishment in 2002. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, promised that Gbagbo’s arrest was “just the beginning” and that more suspects would stand trial for crimes committed during the inter-ethnic violence that followed Cote d’Ivoire’s 2010 presidential election.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday the country’s decision not to attend a conference on the future of Afghanistan is final. The move followed a NATO aircraft strike on Friday that killed 24 soldiers. The conference will be held next week in Bonn, and the German government had urged Pakistan to reverse decision. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Wednesday that “red line” has been crossed and the basis of partnership denied in the NATO attack. The alliance, which is continuing its probe into the case, said communication with the Pakistani forces is needed to avoid friendly fire incidents.
The French naval shipbuilder DCNS has started the construction of the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier for the Russian Navy after the advance payment was received, the company representatives told RIA Novosti on Wednesday. The 1.2 billion-euro contract was signed in June 2011. The first ship will be delivered to Russia in 2014. The construction of the second helicopter carrier will be stated in some months and is expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy in 2015. The Russian Defense Ministry earlier said a contract on building two Mistral-class helicopter carriers under French license will be signed by the end of this year.
Outgoing Kuwaiti defense minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah has been appointed prime minister, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing state television. The former government resigned following the standoff between the government and the parliament, with deputies demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah step down over corruption allegations. Since he became PM in 2006, seven cabinets have been formed and the emir has called early elections three times.
The UK government on Wednesday ordered the closure of Iran’s embassy in London. “All Iranian diplomatic staff must leave the United Kingdom within the next 48 hours,” Reuters quoted British Foreign Secretary William Hague as saying to the parliament. Britain also closed its own embassy in Tehran, having been stormed by protesters the day before. Hague said Britain had evacuated all diplomatic staff from Iran.
Members of a European Union Commission for the Prevention of Torture have visited former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a detention center in Kiev, according to her lawyer Sergey Vlasenko. On the eve of the visit, she was urgently transferred to the infirmary, he claimed, adding that the meeting itself took place in a room “where the smell of fresh paint had not even vanished.” Committee President Letif Huseynov, another member and a medical expert “were shocked” by the fact that the court had never allowed politicians or even members of Tymoshenko’s family to visit her, Vlasenko said, as cited by Interfax. The ex-PM was jailed for seven years for abusing her powers over gas deals with Russia.
The Israeli government on Wednesday decided to release tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The funds were frozen following the Palestine’s admission to UNESCO. If the autonomy returns to “unilateral activity” seeking membership in other UN institutions, the transfer of money would be “reconsidered” again, Israel warned. Acting Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had earlier said his government would not have money to pay workers of the public sector if tax revenues were withheld.
The result of the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary election vote will be announced on Thursday, a day later than planned, state television said. In some areas votes are still being counted, Reuters reported, citing members of the High Elections Commission. Meanwhile, according to judges overseeing counting, partial results show the Muslim Brotherhood has the biggest share of votes in Alexandria, Luxor, Port Said, Fayoum and Kafr el-Sheik, AP said. The Nour Party, made up of ultraconservative Islamic Salafis, and an alliance of secular parties are following, with proportions still unannounced.
The Belarusian Supreme Court has sentenced Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalev to death, finding them guilty of a blast in the Minsk Metro on April 11, 2011. Konovalov on Wednesday was convicted of perpetrating the blast, while Kovalev was charged with the delivery of explosive device and his assistance in detonating the device. According to the verdict, Konovalov was also found guilty of an explosion on Belarusian Independence Day in July 2008 and the terror attacks in Vitebsk in September 2005. The public prosecutor had demanded death penalty for the defendants, but many human rights activists doubt that their guilt has been proved. The April 11 terrorist attack killed 15 people and injured more than 200 people.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Moscow’s consent for a Russia-NATO summit in Chicago should not be taken as predetermined. “Our partners should view current problems fairly and responsibly,” Deputy Director of the department for security and disarmament Vladimir Leontyev said, referring to the missile defense issues. Russia will have to give adequate responses as long as the US missile defense system is being developed in Europe, he said, cited by Itar-Tass. He stressed, however, that Moscow is not shutting the door for co-operation. In another statement, Deputy Director of the pan-European co-operation department of the Foreign Ministry Yury Gorlach said Russia expects “a clear political signal” from NATO states to continue missile defense talks.
Public sector workers in Britain are conducting a one-day strike on Wednesday to protest the government’s changes in their pension plans. At least half of the nation’s schools have been closed. The strike also affected hospitals, doctors’ offices and border control services. According to labor unions, as many as 2 million public sector employees were expected to join the strike. During heated debates in the parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said the changes were vital. Labor leader Ed Miliband accused the PM of “not understanding his own policy” and of seeing unemployment as “a price worth paying.”
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian parliament’s upper house at a closed meeting on Wednesday approved Ivan Molotkov as ambassador to Libya. The Federation Council’s committee also confirmed Ilya Morgunov as ambassador in Iraq. Both men are career diplomats who know Arabic specifics, a source in the parliament told Interfax. Molotkov until recently worked as a minister-counselor of the embassy to Egypt, while Morgunov for a long time occupied the same position at the embassy in Iraq.
Followers of former presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva tried to enter the Central Elections Commission on Wednesday as police had to fire in the air to stop them. Otherwise, the action in support of Dzhioyeva is peaceful, according to media reports. She had earlier declared herself the president-elect, although the Supreme Court branded the elections as invalid. The current leader, Eduard Kokoity, said he would not allow the situation to be destabilized. He also warned that if Dzhioyeva comes to power, Georgia may try to return the former breakaway republic to its control, Interfax reports.
A gunman has wounded a soldier and a security guard at the entrance of Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace on Wednesday. He then engaged in a shootout with police inside the palace courtyard, AP said, quoting witnesses. Gunshots were heard from behind walls of the Topkapi Palace, which is close to the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Initial reports said the attack happened outside the mosque itself.
Los Angeles police on Wednesday have started to detain protesters at City Hall who defied an earlier eviction notice. The raid began in the early hours, two days after the deadline had passed. A similar action has been taken in Philadelphia, where six protesters have been arrested, AP said. The Los Angeles encampment was one of the largest, with some 500 tents remaining prior to the police raid.
Norway has closed its embassy in Tehran due to security reasons, according to the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Hilde Steinfeld. The decision was taken late Tuesday and followed the attack of protesters against the British embassy. Norway’s diplomatic staff have not yet been evacuated from Iran, AP reports. The main reason behind the decision to close the embassy was security concerns in the wake of the attack against Britain’s diplomats, the spokeswoman said.
Turkey is freezing the assets of the Syrian government and severing links with Syria’s Central Bank. The strategic cooperation aimed at boosting ties with Damascus will be also shelved, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday. AP quoted him as saying that the Syrian regime “has come to the end of the road” by ignoring calls to stop the crackdown on protesters. Among other measures, Ankara will ban entry for some Syrian officials and businessmen and block weapons supplies to Damascus from third-party countries.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged all political and public forces in South Ossetia to respect decisions made in the wake of the second round of the presidential poll. The ministry recalled that the South Ossetia’s Supreme Court declared the election results invalid over serious violations, and a new poll was scheduled for March. Russia wants stability in South Ossetia, the ministry said, adding that political processes should develop there “solely in the legal realm.” The presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva has declared herself the president-elect and urged local residents to support her.
The International Criminal Court has charged former Côte d'Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo with four crimes against humanity and taken him into custody. In a statement on Wednesday, the court said Gbagbo is charged with murder, rape, persecution and inhumane acts, AP said. He allegedly committed the crimes during violence that erupted after the last year’s presidential election, when the former president refused to accept his defeat. Gbagbo has become the first former head of state charged by the ICC since it was established in 2002.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has described the protesters’ attack against the British embassy in Iran as “unacceptable and deserving condemnation.” Russia is “expressing support for the British diplomats,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the Iranian authorities should take necessary measures to immediately restore order and investigate the incident. Students storming the embassy have breached the commonly accepted principles that guarantee immunity for the territory and property of diplomatic missions, the ministry stressed.
Britain has evacuated all its diplomatic staff from Iran, Reuters reports on Wednesday, citing Western diplomatic sources. The move followed the storm of the UK Embassy and residential compound in Tehran the day before. AFP and Al Arabiya TV channel also said the diplomats were being withdrawn from Iran on Wednesday. The Foreign Office has confirmed so far only that “some staff” are leaving Iran. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned Iran that its failure to defend the British embassy will have serious consequences.
Russian law enforcement agencies have opened a criminal investigation into an “attempt on the life of Andrei Lugovoi,” who Britain considers the prime suspect in the poisoning of former FSB officer Aleksandr Litvinenko by Polonium-210 in 2006. In this new criminal case, Lugovoi is being treated “as a victim,” a source told Interfax on Wednesday. Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin explained that Lugovoi has been recognized as “an aggrieved party” under the criminal case dealing with Litvinenko’s murder and an attempt on the life of Dmitry Kovtun. Investigators have evidence that Lugovoi himself “was poisoned” during his meeting with Litvinenko, Itar-Tass quoted Markin as saying.
South Ossetian opposition presidential candidate Alla Dzhioyeva has declared herself president-elect and set up a State Council, although the runoff has been recognized invalid by the country’s electoral officials. She claimed that 16,466 people voted for her in the second round of the election on November 27, while 11,286 people chose her opponent, Anatoly Bibilov. “By ignoring the people’s will and declaring the elections invalid, the South Ossetian leadership acted unconstitutionally and outlawed itself,” she said, cited by Interfax. She said the State Council’s powers will be in effect until the new executive bodies are formed. Acting South Ossetian Prosecutor Eldar Kokoyev has said that the establishment of the State Council is unlawful, adding that “this reminds us of a color revolution.”
The construction of an experimental light-water reactor and low enriched uranium are “progressing apace,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. Earlier this month, Pyongyang announced the existence of the reactor. North Korea also accused the US and other Western countries of attempts to deprive the country of the possibility to pursue a peaceful nuclear program. Meanwhile, Itar-Tass quoted the ministry’s official as saying that North Korea is ready to resume the six-party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula without any preconditions.
The parliament of Iceland has voted in favor of recognizing the Palestinian state, the Associated Press reports. The Icelandic lawmakers voted 38 to 25 in favor of recognizing Palestine “as an independent and sovereign state” based on borders predating the Six-Day War of 1967. The resolution recognizes the Palestine Liberation Organization as the legal authority for the state and urges the Israelis and the Palestinians to reach a peace agreement.