World briefs 7/4/04

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Scandal surfaces over Japan's nuclear program

TOKYO -- It was supposed to help revive Japan's troubled nuclear program and curb the country's heavy reliance on energy imports. But as Tokyo considers long-term plans to switch to an experimental, recycled nuclear fuel, it is also facing new allegations that officials misled the public in the past about less-pricey alternatives. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry acknowledged Saturday that a study it conducted in 1994 showed that reprocessing radioactive waste into a plutonium-uranium fuel would cost twice as much as burying it at a disposal site. The study wasn't publicly released until after reports about it surfaced Saturday in the national Asahi and Mainichi newspapers. The allegations that policy-makers concealed data about reprocessing fuel costs marked the latest setback for the nation's nuclear program, which has been plagued by recent safety violations, reactor malfunctions and accidents.

China rejects Hong Kong push for democracy

HONG KONG -- A giant pro-democracy march in Hong Kong will not convince China to reverse its decision ruling out the direct election of the territory's next leader, an official said Saturday. Many in Hong Kong had hoped that Thursday's peaceful pro-democracy rally would lead Beijing to change its mind and move more swiftly on political reforms. But the mainland official, Li Gang, said China had made its position clear when it said in April that the territory's people cannot democratically choose the successor to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa in 2007.

Lawyers sue on behalf of Guantanamo detainees

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Lawyers have filed suit demanding the U.S. government justify its detention of nine foreign terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The challenges, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Washington, are the first since the Supreme Court's ruling last week that the prisoners may use American courts to contest their detentions. Challenges were filed on behalf of two British citizens, three French citizens, a German Turk, a Jordanian Palestinian refugee, an Iraqi refugee and a Canadian.-- From wire reports

Israel's presumed nuclear weapons an issue for IAEA head

VIENNA, Austria -- Focusing on Israel's open secret, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency is expected to push the Jewish state this week for at least tacit acknowledgment that it has nuclear weapons or the means to make them. Israeli policy is to neither confirm nor deny it has such arms, and the International Atomic Energy Agency will not comment on how hard IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei will press officials during his two-day visit starting Tuesday. But IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky says ElBaradei "certainly will voice ... the need for dialogue in the region particularly on security and nuclear issues."

-- From wire reports

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