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Russia’s Space Chief Advisor Arrested For Treason

A spokesman for the head of the Russian space agency has been arrested for treason, the agency says.

Roskosmos said in a statement (in Russian) that former journalist Ivan Safronov’s arrest was not linked to his current job there. There is speculation that he was detained because of his previous work reporting on military affairs.

Safronov worked at the business dailies Kommersant and Vedomosti before joining Roskosmos in May. The space agency said it was helping investigators with their inquiries.

In June 2019, court proceedings were held over the alleged disclosure by Kommersant of information constituting a state secret. The information reportedly had to do with an article co-authored by Safronov about Russia’s deliveries of Su-35 fighter aircraft to Egypt. The report was later removed from the Kommersant website.

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Cause Of Fire At Iran Nuclear Facility Could Be Cyber-Attack

A fire that broke out on Thursday at a key Iranian nuclear facility has caused “significant damage”, a spokesman for Iran’s nuclear energy body has said.

He said the cause of the blaze at the Natanz enrichment site had been determined, but gave no details. The spokesman added that the destroyed machinery would eventually be replaced by more advanced equipment.

The fire hit a centrifuge assembly workshop. Some Iranian officials have blamed possible cyber-sabotage. Centrifuges are needed to produce enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, said on Sunday that security officials were not talking about what caused the Natanz fire “because of security reasons”. The incident, he said, had “caused significant damage, but there were no casualties”.

Other fires and explosions have also occurred in the past week in Iran.

Mr Kamalvandi added: “The incident could slow down the development and production of advanced centrifuges in the medium term… Iran will replace the damaged building with a bigger one that has more advanced equipment.”

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London IS Supporter Who Planned To Bomb St. Paul’s Cathedral Jailed

A supporter of the banned Islamic State terror group has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 14 years after admitting a plot to blow herself up in a bomb attack on St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Muslim convert Safiyya Shaikh was caught after an elaborate operation – but her case raised doubts in court about whether the drug-addicted and emotionally damaged woman would ever have gone through with the attack.

Shortly before midday on 24 September last year at Uxbridge London Underground station, Safiyya Shaikh had finished wiping away her tears. She’d found a soulmate – a woman called Azra, who had consoled her as she poured her heart out. And then Shaikh, happy she had found someone who understood, handed over two pink bags so that her new friend could take them away and fill them with bombs to blow up St Paul’s Cathedral. As they parted, Azra would probably have stopped the covert recording she had been making. She and other undercover investigators had slowly, patiently, reeled in Shaikh – saving London from an appalling attack.

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France Pulls Out Of Nato Operation Over Turkey Tensions

France has temporarily pulled out of a Nato security operation amid a major row with Turkey.

The defence ministry said France had suspended its role in Operation Sea Guardian, accusing Turkey of violating an arms embargo against Libya. It comes weeks after Turkish ships allegedly targeted a French warship in the Mediterranean – something Ankara strongly denies.

The Nato allies are thought to support different sides in Libya’s civil war. Riven by violence since Col Muammar Gaddafi was deposed by Nato-backed forces in 2011, the oil-rich nation is a key transit point for migrants heading to Europe from Africa. Currently, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is battling against the forces of Gen Khalifa Haftar which control large parts of the east and south of Libya.

French relations with Turkey have become increasingly strained in recent months because of the Libya crisis, Turkey’s role in northern Syria, and also drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.

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Appeal To UN Security Council To Extend Arms Embargo On Iran

The US and Saudi governments have made a joint public appeal to the UN Security Council to extend the 13-year old arms embargo on Iran or risk a renewed arms race in the Middle East.

“Iran has not earned the trust to have the embargo lifted… The last thing this region needs is more Iranian weapons,” said Brian Hook, President Donald Trump’s special representative on Iran during a joint press conference in Saudi Arabia. Mr Hook stood alongside Adel Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs.

Parts of what were said to be missiles fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen were laid out behind them. Nearly 400 missiles and rockets have been fired from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, said Mr Hook, adding that this would not have been possible without assistance from Iran.

The joint press conference made no mention of the £5.3bn ($6.5bn) worth of arms reportedly sold by the UK to Saudi Arabia since the Yemen war accelerated in March 2015, nor of the large number of Yemeni civilians killed by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, drawing widespread international criticism.

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