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Iran moves centrifuge-parts workshop underground at Natanz, IAEA says

Iran's new workshop at Natanz for making parts for centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, has been set up underground, UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Thursday, a move apparently aimed at protecting it from possible attacks.

The workshop uses machines from a now-closed facility at Karaj that suffered what Tehran says was a sabotage attack by its arch-foe Israel. The workshop can make parts essential to advanced centrifuges that are among the most efficient in Iran's enrichment program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency informed its member states two weeks ago that Iran had moved the machines to Natanz without specifying where at the sprawling site, which includes the underground Fuel Enrichment Plant where Iran has thousands of centrifuges operating.

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Grossi told a news conference the workshop had been set up in “one of the halls” of the FEP. Diplomats say the plant is roughly three floors below ground, possibly to protect it from potential air strikes.

Until now Iran has used the FEP only for enrichment. It is the one facility where the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers allows Iran to produce enriched uranium, but only with its first-generation IR-1 centrifuges, which are far less efficient than Iran's more advanced models.

“They said that it is ready to operate,” the IAEA's chief inspector, Massimo Aparo, said of the workshop.

The 2015 deal has been eroding since then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out of it in 2018. Iran later breached various restrictions the deal imposed on its nuclear activities, like caps on the purity to which it enriches uranium or its stockpile of enriched material.

It is now also enriching uranium at the FEP with advanced centrifuges and is enriching at other sites where the deal does not allow it. Talks to revive that deal have stalled.

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Iran confirms centrifuge workshop moved to underground Natanz nuclear site

Iran moves equipment for making centrifuge parts to Natanz, IAEA says

Iran opens new centrifuge-parts workshop at Natanz: IAEA report

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IAEA loses transmission from Ukraine’s Russian-held nuclear plant surveillance system

The UN atomic watchdog said on Wednesday it had again lost its connection to its surveillance systems keeping track of nuclear material at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest, which the watchdog wants to inspect.
“The fact that our remote safeguards data transmission is down again –- for the second time in the past month –- only adds to the urgency to dispatch this mission (to Zaporizhzhia),” the
International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

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The connection was lost on Saturday “due to a disruption of the facility’s communication systems,” it added.

Read more: UN watchdog ‘concerned’ about Ukraine nuclear plant access

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Anti-coup protesters in Sudan shot dead: Report

Four protesters were killed in Sudan on Thursday, medics said, as large crowds took to the streets despite heavy security and a communications blackout to rally against the military leadership that seized power eight months ago.

In central Khartoum, security forces fired tear gas and water cannon as they tried to prevent swelling crowds from marching towards the presidential palace, witnesses said.

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They estimated the crowds in Khartoum and its twin cities of Omdurman and Bahri to be in the tens of thousands. In Omdurman witnesses reported tear gas and gunfire as security forces prevented protesters from crossing into Khartoum.

The protests mark the third anniversary of huge demonstrations during the uprising that overthrew long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir and led to a power-sharing arrangement between civilian groups and the military.

Last October, the military led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan toppled the transitional government, triggering rallies that have called on the army to quit politics.

Some protesters carried banners calling for justice for those killed in previous demonstrations. Others chanted, “Burhan, Burhan, back to the barracks and hand over your companies,” a reference to the Sudanese military’s economic holdings.

Earlier, protesters barricaded some of the capital’s main thoroughfares with stones and burning tires.

It was the first time in months of protests against the October coup that internet and phone services had been cut. After the military takeover, extended internet blackouts were imposed in an apparent effort to hamper the protest movement.

Staff at Sudan’s two private sector telecoms companies, speaking on condition of anonymity, said authorities had ordered them to shut down the internet once again on Thursday.

Bridges shut

Phone calls within Sudan were also cut and security forces closed bridges over the Nile linking Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri – another step typically taken on big protest days to limit the movement of marchers.

In recent days there have been daily neighborhood protests in the build-up to Thursday’s rallies.

On Wednesday, medics aligned with the protest movement said security forces shot dead a child during protests in Bahri. Thursday’s four deaths, all in Omdurman, brought the number of protesters killed since the coup to 107.

There was no immediate comment from Sudanese authorities.

The United Nations envoy in Sudan, Volker Perthes, called this week on authorities to abide by a pledge to protect the right of peaceful assembly. “Violence against protesters will not be tolerated,” he said.

Military leaders said they dissolved the government in October because of political paralysis. As a result, however, international financial support agreed with the transitional government was frozen and an economic crisis has deepened.

Burhan said on Wednesday the armed forces were looking forward to the day when an elected government could take over, but this could only be done through consensus or elections, not protests.

Mediation efforts led by the United Nations and the African

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Protesters in Sudan rally against military on uprising anniversary

Internet services cut in Sudan’s Khartoum ahead of pro-democracy protests

Sudan army shells disputed border with Ethiopia

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UN: Almost 16 million people in Ukraine need humanitarian aid

As Russia presses on with its invasion of Ukraine, some 16 million people inside the country need humanitarian aid, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine said Thursday.

“Almost 16 million people in Ukraine today need humanitarian assistance: water food, health services,” Osnat Lubrani told a press briefing.

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Six million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes for other parts of the country since the war started, though around 5 million have since returned, she said.

But “many know that they might be forced to flee again,” she added.

Over 5.3 million more Ukrainians have fled abroad, Lubrani said.

She said the UN tally of casualties since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 was likely much higher.

“The number we have of almost 5,000 civilians killed and more than 5,000 injured is just a fraction of the frightening reality,” she said.

She also said it was “extremely difficult if not… impossible” for humanitarian groups to access areas that are no longer under Kyiv’s control.

Lubrani called on Russia and Ukraine “to do more to protect the people of this country and to make our work possible.”

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Russia says it has more than 6,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war

Kyiv says 144 Ukrainian soldiers released in biggest prisoner swap

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