Australia, facing extreme weather, gains upper hand on more than 100 bushfires

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In this Nov. 2018, photo released onNov. 28, 2018, by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, a firefighter works on a fire ground at Deepwater, near Bundaberg, Australia. (QLD Fire and Emergency via AP)
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In this image made from aerial video taken Nov. 27, 2018, burned out buildings are seen on a scorched landscape in the Deepwater area of Queensland, Australia. (Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 29 November 2018

Australia, facing extreme weather, gains upper hand on more than 100 bushfires

SYDNEY: The threat from more than 100 fires burning across Australia’s northeast eased over the past 24 hours, lawmakers and emergency workers said on Thursday, although unfavorable weather conditions are set to continue.
Emergency workers warned on Wednesday that a spate fires had reached emergency levels, triggering an evacuation of more than 8,000 people from the town of Gracemere, about 600 km (370 miles) north of the Queensland state capital, Brisbane.
Firefighters extinguished the biggest fires after working through the night.
More than 100 fires remained alight but none was considered to pose an imminent threat, the Queensland Rural Fire Service said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said residents must continue to monitor emergency warnings.
“What we experienced yesterday was off the charts,” Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane. “We’re still not out of the woods. There’s still a long way to go.”
The Bureau of Meteorology said temperatures across the state would ease to 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 Fahrenheit) on Thursday, down from the highs of around 40 C recorded earlier in the week.
Rain was also expected on Friday, the bureau said, offering some respite.
The hot, dry weather on Australia’s northeast coast was in stark contrast to conditions in Sydney, Australia’s largest city, on Wednesday.
More rain fell across Sydney on Wednesday than would normally be seen throughout the whole of November, the meteorology bureau said.
The torrential rain caused flash flooding, left hundreds of people without electricity and caused widespread transportation delays.


IAEA urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared site

Updated 21 November 2019

IAEA urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared site

  • IAEA said in a report last week that its inspectors had "detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran

VIENNA: The UN nuclear watchdog on Thursday urged Iran to explain the presence of uranium particles at an undeclared site, as a landmark deal aimed at curbing Tehran's atomic activities threatens to collapse.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report made public last week that its inspectors had "detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency".
The agency's acting head Cornel Feruta said IAEA and Iranian officials would meet in Tehran next week to discuss the matter, adding that the UN body had not received any additional information.
"The matter remains unresolved... It is essential that Iran works with the agency to resolve this matter promptly," he told IAEA member states at a meeting of the agency's board of governors.
A diplomatic source told AFP that the IAEA would send a high-ranking technical delegation to Iran next week.
The particles are understood to be the product of uranium which has been mined and undergone initial processing, but not enriched.
While the IAEA has not named the site in question, diplomatic sources have previously said the agency asked Iran about a site in the Turquzabad district of Tehran where Israel has alleged secret atomic activity in the past.
Sources say the IAEA took samples from the site in the spring and that Iran has been slow in providing answers to explain the test results.
The 2015 deal between Iran and world powers has been faltering since last year when the United States pulled out and started to reinstate punishing sanctions on Tehran, leaving the other signatories struggling to salvage the agreement.
Over the past few months, Iran has breached several parts of the deal it signed with the US as well as Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, in which it committed to scaling back its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
But Britain, France and Germany have said they are extremely concerned by Iran's actions in stepping up its uranium enrichment and other breaches.
Enrichment is the process that produces fuel for nuclear power plants but also, in highly extended form, the fissile core for a warhead.
On Monday, the IAEA confirmed Iran's stock of heavy water for reactors has surpassed the 130-tonne limit set under the agreement.
Heavy water is not itself radioactive but is used in nuclear reactors to absorb neutrons from nuclear fission.
Heavy water reactors can be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons as an alternative to enriched uranium.
The IAEA has also said one of its inspectors was briefly prevented from leaving Iran, calling her treatment "not acceptable".
Iran has cancelled the inspector's accreditation, saying she triggered a security check at the entrance gate to the Natanz enrichment plant last month.
The IAEA has disputed the Iranian account of the incident, without going into details.