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Iran flouts nuclear agency's demands

Iran defied the United Nations' nuclear agency on Tuesday, announcing that it had begun converting tons of uranium into gas, a crucial step in making fuel for a nuclear reactor or a nuclear bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency called on Saturday for Iran to suspend all such activities.

Iran's statement, made in Vienna by the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, put the country on a collision course with the United States, which has lobbied vigorously for the international nuclear agency to refer Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council for past breaches of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Tuesday's announcement will only add weight to Washington's arguments. On Saturday, the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors passed a resolution calling for Iran to halt all uranium enrichment activities, but it declined to refer the matter to the Security Council. The board meets again on Nov. 25. Should the United States prevail, the Security Council could decide to impose sanctions against the country, issue a warning or take no action at all.

Rulings announced for 5

more at Guantanamo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico _ A U.S. military review panel has decided against releasing five prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, concluding they are properly held as "enemy combatants," an official said Tuesday.

The latest rulings bring to 43 the number of cases for which decisions have been announced. The panels so far have ordered only one man freed, a Pakistani who went home Saturday after being held in Guantanamo for more than two years. The military has deemed 42 others properly held as "enemy combatants," a murky classification offering fewer legal protections than prisoner-of-war status.

Clash with U.S. forces

kills 6 Afghans

KABUL, Afghanistan _ A U.S. air attack killed six rebels in southern Afghanistan in an exchange of fire after militants shot a rocket at an American helicopter, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

Militants fired a rocket and small arms at a Black Hawk helicopter on Monday in Zabul province, the military said. No American troops were injured and there was no damage to the helicopter before another chopper _ an Apache gunship _ "engaged the enemy, killing six insurgents," the statement said, without elaborating.

Also Monday, two U.S. soldiers on a routine security patrol were wounded when a homemade bomb destroyed their Humvee in Shinkay, another district of Zabul close to Pakistan, the military said. It said the two wounded soldiers would be flown to Germany for treatment but did not identify them or describe their condition.

Report: Syrian troops

not leaving Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon _ Hundreds of Syrian soldiers stationed in the hills near Lebanon's capital began dismantling their bases Tuesday in an effort to appease a U.N. Security Council demand that all 20,000 Syrian troops leave the country.

But the Associated Press, quoting an unnamed senior Lebanese military official, reported that the 3,000 soldiers were only moving away from Beirut and not out of Lebanon, so the effort was unlikely to satisfy the Security Council, the United States, Israel or critics of the Syrian presence.

Israel to buy 5,000

smart bombs from U.S.

JERUSALEM _ The United States will sell Israel nearly 5,000 smart bombs in one of the largest weapons deals between the allies in years, the Associated Press reported, quoting unnamed Israeli military officials as saying Tuesday.

Israel's announcement came after the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible military sale to Israel worth as much as $319-million.

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