Top News Stories for Today – December 24, 2016
IAEA publishes restricted Iran Nuclear activities
The International Atomic Energy Agency has published on its website a number of documents, previously restricted, about the international nuclear deal with Iran reached in 2015. The documents released Friday are accompanied by a letter from the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who authorized the publication, but gave no details about why the documents were being made public now.
The documents indicate Tehran has not overreached its limit on manufacture of low-enriched uranium — 300 kilograms, under terms of the international agreement. Low-enriched uranium cannot be used for making nuclear weapons, but it could be further enriched to achieve weapons grade. The deal seeks to ensure that Iran uses its nuclear capacity only for generation of power and not for weapons manufacture.
The documents’ publication Friday came less than a month before US. President-elect Donald Trump, who has been strongly critical of the Iran nuclear agreement, is inaugurated and takes power. VOA
UN votes against Israeli settlements
The UN Security Council on Friday voted in favor of a resolution against Israeli settlements. The US. did not use its veto, as President-elect Donald Trump and several senators had pushed it to do, and instead abstained from voting on whether or not Israel should build settlements on Palestinian land.
The abstention marks a break from America’s typical position as “Israel’s sturdiest shield,” The New York Times reported, belying the Obama administration’s frustration with the problems settlement-building poses to a two-state solution. The resolution’s passage came a day after Egypt, which proposed the measure, postponed the vote after Trump spoke with the Egyptian president. The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Week
Possible attacks on churches at Christmas
The FBI issued a warning to local law enforcement Friday that the Islamic State has urged supporters in the United States to attack holiday gatherings this weekend, including churches celebrating Christmas. The warning came after ISIS-linked websites posted a list of churches, but the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security emphasized that there are no known, credible threats against any congregations.
“As part of the continuous dialogue with our law enforcement partners, the FBI routinely shares information about potential threats to better enable law enforcement to protect the communities they serve, said FBI spokesman Andrew Ames, indicating that the warning has been sent out of an abundance of caution. Reuters, The Guardian
ISIS releases video of Berlin attacker
On Friday, the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency released a video of Anis Amri, the 24-year-old Turkish man suspected of carrying out Monday’s deadly truck attack in Berlin, pledging his allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In the video, Amri, who was killed Friday in a shootout with Italian police in Milan, is standing in northern Berlin, not far from where he allegedly hijacked the truck he then plowed into a Christmas market Monday, killing 12. The video raises questions about whether Amri was in contact with the terrorist group before the attack; CNN reported documents indicate Amri was “part of an ISIS recruitment network” in Germany centered around the radical preacher Abu Walaa, who “styled himself as ISIS’s representative” to the country. The Associated Press, CNN
Pope’s order of Malta
The Order of Malta, the ancient Roman Catholic aristocratic lay order, has told Pope Francis that his decision to launch an investigation into the ouster of a top official over an old condom scandal is unacceptable. In an extraordinary rebuke of the pontiff, the group said late Friday that the replacement of its grand chancellor was an “act of internal governmental administration of the Sovereign Order of Malta and consequently falls solely within its competence.”
Francis on Thursday appointed a five-member commission to investigate the December 8 ouster of Albrecht von Boeselager amid evidence that Francis’ own envoy to the group, conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke, helped engineer it without his blessing. VOA
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