Senior banker Lucas Papademos was named on Thursday to be the new Prime Minister of an interim Greek unity government that seeks to cement a new European debt deal and stave off national bankruptcy.
Papademos, who was named after four tortuous days of power-sharing talks, immediately called for unity and promised to seek cross-party cooperation to keep Greece firmly in the 17-nation eurozone.
The 64-year-old former vice president of the European Central Bank was chosen to lead a temporary government backed by both the governing Socialists and opposition conservatives that will operate until early elections, tentatively set for February. He replaces outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou midway through the Socialist leader’s four-year term.
“I am not a politician but I have dedicated most of my professional life to exercising financial policy both in Greece and in Europe,” Papademos said after the Greek President gave him the mandate to form a Cabinet. “The Greek economy continues to face huge problems despite the great efforts than have been made for fiscal reform.”
Iran won’t retreat “one iota” from its nuclear program, but the world is being misled by claims that it seeks atomic weapons, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday in his first reaction since a U.N. watchdog report that Tehran is on the brink of developing a nuclear warhead.
The comments — broadcast live on state TV — contrasted sharply with Western warnings that Iran appears to be engaged in a dangerous defiance of international demands to control the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions.
In Paris, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France would support boosting sanctions against Tehran to an “unprecedented scale” if Iran stonewalls investigations, even as Israel and others say that military options are still possible.
Israel’s government, however, remained silent over the report, apparently seeking to keep the focus on international pressures and avoid turning the report into a specific showdown between Israel and Iran.
Meanwhile, Iran’s chief allies, China and Russia, have issued cautious statements calling for diplomacy and dialogue.
“This nation won’t retreat one iota from the path it is going,” Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in Shahr-e-Kord in central Iran. “Why are you ruining the prestige of the (U.N. nuclear) agency for absurd U.S. claims?”
Ahmadinejad also strongly chided the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, saying it is discrediting itself by siding with “absurd” U.S. accusations.
The 13-page annex to the IAEA’s report released Tuesday included claims that while some of Iran’s activities have civilian as well as military applications, others are “specific to nuclear weapons.”
Among these were indications that Iran has conducted high explosives testing and detonator development to set off a nuclear charge, as well as computer modeling of a core of a nuclear warhead. The report also cited preparatory work for a nuclear weapons test, and development of a nuclear payload for Iran’s Shahab 3 intermediate-range missile — a weapon that can reach Israel.
Ahmadinejad repeated Iran’s claims that it doesn’t make sense to build nuclear weapons in a world already awash with atomic arms.
“The Iranian nation is wise. It won’t build two bombs against 20,000 (nuclear) bombs you have,” he said in comments apparently directed at the West and others. “But it builds something you can’t respond to: Ethics, decency, monotheism and justice.”
The U.S. and allies claim a nuclear-armed Iran could touch off a nuclear arms race among rival states, including Saudi Arabia, and directly threaten Israel. The West is seeking to use the report as leverage to possible tougher sanctions on Iran, but Israel and others have said military options have not been ruled out.
The bulk of the information in the IAEA report was a compilation of alleged findings that have already been partially revealed by the agency. But some of the information was new — including evidence of a large metal chamber at a military site for nuclear-related explosives testing. Iran has dismissed that, saying they were merely metal toilet stalls.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted lawmaker Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash as saying the report shows that IAEA “has no powers and moves in the direction” of the U.S. and allies. Another parliament member, Parviz Sorouri, accused IAEA chief Yukiya Amano of tarnishing the agency.
“The report was drawn up by Americans and read by Amano,” the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.
The U.N. Security Council has passed four sets of damaging sanctions on Iran, but veto-wielding members China and Russia oppose further measures and are unlikely to change their minds despite the report’s findings.
China has not isn’t publicly commented yet on a U.N. assessment of Iran’s nuclear programs in a likely sign that it will wait for Washington and Moscow to signal their intentions. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Wednesday that Beijing was studying the report and repeated calls for dialogue and cooperation.
In Paris, Juppe said France would support tougher sanctions if Iran refuses to answer new questions about its nuclear program.
“We cannot accept this situation (of a nuclear-armed Iran), which would be a threat to stability and peace of the region and beyond,” he said on France’s RFI radio.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday it would not comment on the report until it had time to study it.
“It is important to figure out whether there really are new, and indeed trustworthy, facts that confirm the suspicions that there are military components in the Iranian nuclear program, or whether we’re talking about the intentional and counterproductive exacerbation of emotions,” said the Russian statement.
In Israel, a leading columnist at the Yediot Ahronot daily, Nahum Barnea, said there is a desire by officials to rally world opinion to pressure Iran.
“The publication of the report returns the ball to the international court,” wrote Barnea. “Israel is not alone.”
A study out of Harvard University has found that healthy young men who indulge in junk food binges are putting their fertility at risk. And those who ate foods high in trans fats — like deep-fried and processed foods — fared the worst.
In the study, researchers from Harvard and the University of Murcia in Spain asked hundreds of men ages 18-22 to keep a log of everything they ate for months.
After analyzing the food diaries and their sperm, doctors found that those who binged on high-fat foods like cookies, cakes, chocolate, chips and fried and processed foods had poorer-quality sperm than those who followed a healthy diet, reported British paper The Sun this week.
The same was true of men who were of a healthy weight and exercised regularly: doctors said their sperm was less likely survive the perilous journey to fertilize an egg.
Those with the weakest swimmers were men who consumed diets high in trans fats like hydrogenated oils, while men who ate whole grains, vegetables and fish produced the best-quality sperm.
Foods that have been shown to boost men’s fertility include eggs, salmon, natural yogurt, nuts, seeds, berries, sweet potatoes, broccoli and asparagus.
“For the moment we don’t know the little girl’s name,” a source in the first lady’s inner circle confirmed to AFP, as the world’s media gathered near the La Muette clinic in Paris and Sarkozy returned from talks on the future of the eurozone in Frankfurt.
Sarkozy arrived at the clinic shortly before 11:00 pm (local time), just over three hours after the birth.
“It happened between 7:00 and 7:30 pm. Everything went well,” a second source told AFP. The staff at the clinic has been reminded of the strict duty of medical confidentiality, and Sarkozy’s office was silent.
The girl is the French first couple’s first baby since their marriage in 2008, although Bruni has one 10-year-old son from a previous relationship and thrice-married Sarkozy has three aged 14 to 26.
The baby is also the first born to a serving French president.
In an interview pre-recorded for a French state television broadcast due today, Bruni-Sarkozy said she had not known the baby’s sex: “We’ve arranged for it to be a big surprise. Obviously, a nice surprise.”
Sarkozy had earlier in the day visited his 43-year-old wife in the Paris clinic for half-an-hour, but was forced to jet off to Germany for crisis talks on the eurozone sovereign debt crisis before the birth itself.
He left Frankfurt just before the birth was announced, after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, IMF director Christine Lagarde and the current and next heads of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet and Mario Draghi.