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Saudi Arabia says Iran’s nuclear activity is concerning

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

Saudi Arabia is concerned about increased nuclear activities by Iran which threaten regional security, a Saudi foreign ministry official said, after Tehran started the process of producing enriched uranium metal.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday Iran had begun the enrichment process, a move that could help it develop a nuclear weapon and was criticised by the United States and European powers.

Iran said its steps were aimed at developing fuel for a research reactor, not at producing a nuclear weapon.

Washington and its European allies saw the move as a threat to talks on reviving a 2015 deal that imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international sanctions.

Riyadh “is greatly concerned about the increased pace of Iran’s nuclear activities and development of capabilities … that are not consistent with peaceful purposes”, the Saudi official said in response to a Reuters request for comment.

The official said Iran’s moves to produce uranium enriched to 60% fissile purity and uranium metal to 20% “represent an increasing threat” to regional security and non-proliferation of weapons.

They hamper efforts to secure “a comprehensive nuclear deal that ensures global and regional security and stability,” the official said.

Global powers have been in talks with Tehran since early April to revive the 2015 deal. Washington withdrew from the pact three years ago, and Iran has responded by gradually breaching its restrictions.

The United States said on Wednesday it expected a seventh round of indirect U.S.-Iran talks to take place “at the appropriate moment,” but did not say when.

Uranium enriched to 20% can be used in research reactors. But France, Britain and Germany, all parties to the 2015 deal, have said Iran’s uranium metal production has no civilian credibility but could have potentially serious military implications.

Saudi Arabia, which is locked in a rivalry for regional power with Iran, has called for a stronger deal of longer duration that also addresses Gulf Arab concerns about Tehran’s missiles programme and support for proxies around the region.

Riyadh and Tehran, which severed ties in 2016, launched direct talks in April aimed at containing tensions.

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Three students shot dead, 8 wounded in Michigan school shooting

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

A 15-year-old boy opened fire in a Michigan high school on Tuesday with a semi-automatic pistol his father had purchased days earlier, killing three fellow students and wounding eight other people before he was arrested, authorities said.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told a news briefing hours after the rampage at Oxford High School that investigators were at a loss to explain what might have precipitated “an unspeakable and unforgivable” act of violence, Reuters reported.

The suspect, disarmed and taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies minutes after the shooting began, has declined to speak with investigators after his parents retained a lawyer and denied authorities permission to interview their son, Bouchard said.

“The person who’s got the most insight on motive is not talking,” the sheriff told reporters.

Bouchard said he was unaware of any previous run-ins with law enforcement by the suspect adding there was “nothing to suggest that there had been disciplinary issues or problems with him at school.”

The bloodshed unfolded around midday in Oxford, Michigan, about 65 km north of Detroit, as terrified students and teachers taking cover inside the school flooded the county emergency dispatch center with more than 100 calls for assistance, authorities said.

Bouchard said his deputies confronted the young suspect advancing down a hallway toward them with a loaded weapon, when he put his hands over his head and surrendered.

Three students died in the shooting spree – a 16-year-old boy who succumbed to his wounds en route to a hospital in a patrol car, and two girls, aged 14 and 17, authorities said.

Of the eight others struck by gunfire, seven were students, two of them hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the head.

At least two girls, aged 14 and 17, were described by Bouchard as critically wounded with chest wounds.

A teacher was also treated for a shoulder wound and later discharged.

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Iran nuclear talks resume in Vienna

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

Talks between Tehran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have resumed in Vienna, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported on Monday.

“The new round of the Joint Commission has started at the Palais Coburg in Vienna,” IRNA reported.

The Commission comprises Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and Iran, signatories to the nuclear deal that the United States abandoned three years ago.

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Woman arrested after setting fire to Australian quarantine hotel room

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2021)

Australian police are expecting to charge a woman with arson after she set fire to a quarantine hotel facility in Cairns, Queensland, with her two children inside on Sunday.

No one was injured in the fire but over 100 people needed to be evacuated after the 31-year-old mother was alleged to have started the fire in her room.

Video obtained by Reuters showed black smoke billowing out of a rooftop hotel room as fire ladders were extended to put out the fire.

“There was a smell like burnt plastic,” Sarah Orton, a resident of Toowoomba in Queensland, told Reuters.

“Police were very quick to arrive on scene and cordon off the area.”

“The 31-year-old female had been in quarantine for a couple of days and we did have some issues with that female occupant that we were managing,” acting chief superintendent, Chris Hodgman told reporters in Cairns.

Hodgman added that the woman’s two children were being cared for by police.

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