World briefs 12/12/05

Monday, December 12, 2005

Iran offers U.S. a share in nuclear power plants

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran opened the door Sunday for U.S. help in building a nuclear power plant -- a move designed to ease American suspicions that Tehran is using its nuclear program as a cover to build atomic weapons. The offer, which did not seem likely to win acceptance in Washington, was issued as Israel said it had not ruled out a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. In Washington, neither the State Department nor the White House issued any comment on the proposal.

Israeli defense minister leaves Likud, joins Sharon

JERUSALEM -- Israel's defense minister quit the Likud Party on Sunday to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new centrist faction, saying his former party had been hijacked by "right-wing extremists." The defection of Shaul Mofaz, one of the most prominent Likud leaders, further marginalized the increasingly hard-line party and gave Sharon added momentum as he prepared to campaign for March 28 elections.

Strong quake hits Papua New Guinea; no injuries

SYDNEY, Australia -- A powerful earthquake shook Papua New Guinea early today, but there were no reports of damage or injuries, a disaster official in the country said. The quake had an initial magnitude of 6.5 and struck at 12:20 a.m. local time in the New Britain region of Papua New Guinea, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of damage or a tsunami, said Martin Mose, assistant director for community and government liaison at Papua New Guinea's National Disaster Management Office. On Thursday, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit the northern coast of Papua New Guinea, but there were no reported injuries.

Nigerian plane crash wreckage investigated

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria -- Investigators on Sunday picked over the scorched wreckage of an airliner that was ferrying schoolchildren home for the holidays when it crashed, killing all but three of the 110 people on board. The cause of the crash was still unknown a day after the Sosoliso Airlines' McDonnell Douglas DC-9 slammed into the ground on approach to the southern oil-industry center of Port Harcourt. The wreckage lay Sunday in two principal parts several hundred yards apart, with investigators picking through the pieces in search for clues. Tommy Oyelade, an Aviation Ministry official, said the plane's flight-data recorders had been recovered.

-- From wire reports

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