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By Fredrik Dahl VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran appears to have moved quickly to prevent a large increase in its most disputed nuclear stockpile, a new U.N. watchdog report indicates, in what may be an attempt not to undermine talks on a nuclear deal with six world powers next week. Israel, which has long warned it could use force to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, has said its foe must not obtain enough of this higher-grade uranium for one warhead if processed further. Iran says its work is peaceful and that it is Israel's assumed nuclear arsenal that threatens peace. The powers, which are due to resume negotiations with Iran in Geneva on November 20 on a preliminary deal towards ending the decade-old standoff over its nuclear program, want Tehran to stop 20 percent enrichment and neutralize the stockpile.
Russian police killed the main suspect in last month's bombing of a bus in Volgograd and several other suspected militants in Dagestan on Saturday, media reports said. Five militants, including the husband of the suicide bomber who detonated the bus bomb, were killed in a shootout after hours of armed stand-off at a house in Makhachkala, capital of the violent North Caucasus region of Dagestan. Dmitry Sokolov had told police during the siege at the house that he had made the bomb set off in Volgograd by the woman authorities have named as Naida Asiyalova, media said. The bombing, the deadliest attack outside the North Caucasus for nearly three years, raised fears of more Islamist violence as Russia prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, near the mainly Muslim region.
By Lesley Wroughton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major powers and Iran are getting closer to an initial agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said on Friday, adding it is "quite possible" a deal could be reached when negotiators meet November 20-22 in Geneva. The official said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were to meet on November 20 in Geneva. The talks will seek to finalize an interim deal to allow time to negotiate a comprehensive, permanent agreement with Iran that would end a 10-year deadlock and provide assurances to the six powers that its atomic program would not produce bombs. Iran has denied that it is seeking the capability to produce atomic weapons and insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity and other civilian uses.
MOSCOW/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Russia handed over a $2.3 billion aircraft carrier to India on Saturday after years of delays, extending the South Asian country's maritime reach in the Indian Ocean as it looks to counter China's assertive presence in the region. The handover, at a shipyard near the Arctic Circle, underlined close defense ties between Russia, the world's No. 2 arms exporter, and the world's largest arms customer, India. But while India remains Russia's biggest buyer, it has started to look to new military suppliers and aims to build more hardware itself. It has recently rolled out new military purchase rules to lure local private companies into the sector.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday that Iran nuclear talks had eliminated the fundamental areas of disagreement and there was a real chance of reaching a deal next week. "Our general impression is that there is a very good chance that must not be missed," the foreign ministry cited Lavrov as saying in a transcript of the interview broadcast on TVTs television. He said he was referring to a discussion with the European Union policy chief Catherine Ashton on the sidelines of the ASEM conference of European and Asian foreign ministers last week. "Now there are no fundamental disagreements on the practical questions that need to be resolved," Lavrov said, with both Iran and the group of six world powers ready to "seek points of contact."
By Anthony Deutsch and Benet Koleka THE HAGUE/TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania rejected on Friday a U.S. request to host the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, dealing a blow to a U.S.-Russian accord to eliminate such arms from the country's protracted civil war. Negotiations went down to the wire as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague hit the deadline on Friday for a step-by-step plan to get rid of 1,300 tonnes of Syria's sarin, mustard gas and other agents. Albania's refusal marked an unprecedented break from its traditionally staunch allegiance to NATO ally Washington and may make it hard to meet destruction deadlines. "It is impossible for Albania to get involved in this operation," Prime Minister Edi Rama, just two months in the job, said in a televised address to the nation.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The crisis in Syria, arms control and missile defense headline what are expected to be chilly talks between top U.S. and Russian foreign and defense chiefs, a sit-down tainted by the case of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, which led President Barack Obama to cancel his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
MOSCOW (AP) — She has the sober demeanor and tightly wound bun of a boarding school headmistress. And she's Vladimir Putin's new morality crusader, spearheading efforts to curb gay rights, punish online cursing and impose a tax on divorce.