Iran may resume nuclear fuel enrichment

The head of Iran’s nuclear program said Sunday that the country has begun “preliminary activities for designing” a modern process for 20 percent uranium enrichment for its 50-year-old research reactor in Tehran, signaling new danger for the nuclear deal.

Restarting enrichment at that level would mean that Iran had withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers, an accord from which President Trump pulled the United States in May.

However, Ali Akbar Salehi’s comments to state television appeared aimed at telling the world that Iran would slowly restart its program. If it chooses, it could resume mass enrichment at its main facility in the central Iranian town of Natanz.

“Preliminary activities for designing modern 20 percent [enriched uranium] fuel have begun,” state TV quoted Salehi as saying.

In June, Iran told the U.N. nuclear watchdog that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 deal.

— Associated Press

Syria strikes confirmed; Hezbollah tunnel found

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday confirmed that Israel has struck hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria, including a weapons facility in a weekend airstrike, as the military announced the discovery of a sixth and final tunnel dug by the Lebanese militant group for cross-border attacks.

The statements marked a rare, public acknowledgment of Israeli attacks on Hezbollah and its patron Iran in neighboring Syria, where Israel is long believed to have targeted Iranian weapons shipments to the Shiite group.

However, Israel had generally refrained from commenting about the strikes for fear of triggering a reaction and being drawn into Syria’s civil war.

At his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu publicly confirmed the strikes as he thanked the outgoing military chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, for long years of service.

On Sunday, an Israeli military spokesman said the final Hezbollah tunnel was the largest discovered so far. Israel launched Operation Northern Shield last month to detect and destroy what it called a network of Hezbollah tunnels for militants to sneak across the border, capture territory and stage attacks.

— Associated Press

Confidence vote looms after ally quits coalition

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Sunday that he would call a confidence vote in his government after a coalition ally quit, leaving him bereft of a majority in Parliament and raising the possibility of snap elections.

Earlier, right-wing Defense Minister Panos Kammenos resigned in protest of a deal ending a long-running dispute with Macedonia over its name, saying he was taking six other ministers along.

The crisis left the fate of a 2018 deal changing the name of Macedonia to North Macedonia in limbo. Greek parliamentary endorsement of the name is required for the tiny Balkan nation to join the European Union and NATO. Macedonia’s parliament has ratified the accord.

Greece has a province called Macedonia and long demanded that Skopje change its country name to remove what Athens considered an implied claim to Greek sovereign territory.

— Reuters

Yemen military intelligence chief dies after drone attack: Yemen's government said that its military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Saleh Tamah, died of wounds suffered in a drone attack last week. The bomb-laden drone targeted a military parade at al-Anad air base near the southern port city of Aden, killing at least six people. Shiite rebels who have been battling the government for years asserted responsibility for the attack.

— From news services