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Nuclear reports on Egypt conflict

The U.N. atomic watchdog agency has found evidence of secret nuclear experiments in Egypt that could be used in weapons programs, the Associated Press reported, quoting unnamed diplomats who spoke Tuesday.

The diplomats told the AP that most of the work was carried out in the 1980s and 1990s but said the International Atomic Energy Agency also was looking at evidence suggesting some work was performed as recently as a year ago.

Egypt's government rejected claims it is or has been pursuing a weapons program, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

However, the Washington Post, quoting unnamed diplomats familiar with the findings of U.N. nuclear inspectors, reported that there is no evidence that the Arab nation has a nuclear weapons program. Egypt is not under special investigation, the sources said, although inspectors from the IAEA are awaiting the results of tests on several environmental samples taken during recent visits to government-run nuclear facilities around Cairo.

The Washington Post, quoting unnamed Western diplomats, reported that there is no evidence of uranium enrichment or plutonium separation _ the two hallmarks of a nuclear weapons program.

In Vienna, IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said the agency would not comment on the revelations about Egypt.

Election poses problems

for overseas Iraqis

Tens of thousands of Iraqi immigrants across the United States who may be entitled to vote in their homeland's elections this month are finding that confusion is the front-runner.

What began as enthusiasm for the absentee balloting has given way to frustration among Iraqi expatriates who are uncertain where they will vote and whether they will even be eligible.

With less than two weeks before voter registration begins, U.S. organizers say they still have not decided on the exact locations of up to 25 polling places in the five cities selected to host the vote.

Getting to the polls is yet another challenge. Those who live in New York City, Phoenix and Dallas _ other cities with large Iraqi populations _ will have to travel hundreds of miles to appear in person at polling centers twice in two weeks. Registration is Jan. 17-23, and voting is Jan. 28-30.

The situation is the same in Canada, which has 30,000 Iraqi residents. Three cities have been chosen to host the vote there, but no locations have been selected for the registration and polling centers.

Election organizers acknowledge problems and say they are doing their best with the little time they have. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq in Baghdad authorized an out-of-country vote in November and enlisted the International Organization of Migration to organize it.

American lawmakers

reschedule N. Korea visit

WASHINGTON _ Members of Congress plan to travel to Pyongyang, North Korea, next week, more than a year after a scheduled trip to the communist-led country was scuttled because of White House opposition.

This time, President Bush is not standing in the way of the bipartisan delegation, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said Tuesday.

Weldon, who is coordinating the trip, led a group of lawmakers to the country in May 2003. They were the first U.S. officials to visit North Korea since it acknowledged having a clandestine nuclear program.

The delegation sought to return in October 2003, but Weldon scrapped the trip when the White House objected.

Chile high court upholds

Pinochet indictment

SANTIAGO, Chile _ Chile's highest court ruled Tuesday that ex-President Augusto Pinochet can stand trial on kidnapping and murder charges despite his advanced age, boosting hopes among his detractors for a high-profile human-rights trial.

In a 3-2 vote, the Supreme Tribunal rejected an appeal by Pinochet's lawyers, who argued that Pinochet, 89, could not face charges because he had been ruled mentally unfit for trial in 2002. The court said the 2002 ruling had no bearing on the legality of the current charges and that there was enough evidence to justify a trial.

Still pending, however, is a separate appeal based on the general's mental fitness. His lawyers have argued that he suffers from age-related dementia and can't properly defend himself. The court hasn't said when it will rule on that.

Fighting terror . . .

SAUDI BLAST: An Internet statement purportedly from al-Qaida claimed responsibility Tuesday for last week's bombings in the Saudi capital, saying the targets were the interior minister and his son.

It was not possible to authenticate the statement, which surfaced on an Islamic Web site known to be a clearinghouse for al-Qaida statements. The statement bore the al-Qaida logo and was signed by "Al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula."

KUWAITI ARRESTS: Kuwait has arrested up to four members of its armed forces who are suspected of plotting to attack allied troops, a Kuwaiti military spokesman said.

Kuwait has witnessed several small-scale attacks on U.S. troops and civilians in the past three years. But this is the first time in many years that serving members of the armed forces have been detained on such charges.

IRAQI VOTE

CITIES

U.S.: Detroit, Chicago, Washington, Nashville, Los Angeles

CANADA: Toronto; Ottawa; Calgary, Alberta

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