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Sept. 28, 2009

By
United Press International
A Zelzal rocket is launched during a test in Iran on September 27, 2009. UPI/Raof Mohseni/Mehr News Agency
A Zelzal rocket is launched during a test in Iran on September 27, 2009. UPI/Raof Mohseni/Mehr News Agency | License Photo

Iranian missile tests:

Iran fired missiles suspected of having a range of 1,240 miles -- enough to reach Israel or U.S. bases in the region -- and said the tests were successes.

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It was the third series of missile tests by Tehran, which had a secret nuclear facility unveiled last week and has talks with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany this week about its nuclear program.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes but many Western countries fear it may be a precursor to Tehran developing a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian leadership, particularly President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been openly hostile to Israel.

Tests over the past few days included Monday's firing of the Shahab-3 rocket, which is believed to have a range of 1,240 miles. Two classes of missiles with less range were fired Sunday.

Even before the Monday tests, U.S. officials said they had the international support to impose "severe additional sanctions" on Tehran. However, Security Council members Russia and China have been successful in the past in keeping tough penalties from being levied. It is unknown if the revelation of a secret nuclear facility would change that stance.

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The meetings are scheduled for Thursday in Switzerland.


Polanski arrested:

Film director Roman Polanski was arrested on a three-decades-old warrant for allegedly having sex with a 13-year-old girl in the United States.

Polanski has avoided the United States since the indictment was handed down but he was arrested Saturday by Swiss authorities, acting at the request of Los Angeles prosecutors. Polanski was in Switzerland to be honored at a film festival.

Polish and French officials called for Polanski to be released on bail and the director's attorney said he would fight any extradition request by the United States.

Polanski is accused of having sex with an underage girl -- who has reached an undisclosed settlement with the director and asked that criminal charges be dropped -- in 1977. If convicted of the charges, Polanski, 76, could be sentenced to a life-in-prison term.


German elections:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel worked on coalition-building Monday after voters assured her of a second term as the country's leader.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union bloc won nearly 11 percent more of the vote than any other party in Sunday's elections. Merkel was working with the Free Democratic Party, which was third in the elections, to form a coalition.

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The FDP is led by Guido Westerwelle, who is likely to be the next foreign minister if his party joins with Merkel.

Merkel said the economy and jobs would be the first order of business for the next government, expected to be completed by November. Business interests in Germany seemed heartened by the results, the BBC said.


Gadhafi in South America:

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is looking to establish a Southern Hemisphere version of NATO.

Gadhafi, who made his first visit to the United Nations last week, headed for Venezuela last weekend and used a meeting of African and South American leaders to suggest deepening ties between the continents economically and in terms of defense. He called his plan SATO -- a "NATO of the South."

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, the host of the summit, had additional sessions scheduled Monday with Gadhafi. They are to sign a series of agreements giving Venezuela access to oil and mining projects across Africa in exchange for financial aid.

Chavez had previously mentioned a South American defense organization to protect the region from what he has termed U.S. imperialism.