World and Nation

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U.S. Agrees to Produce Data On Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

The Bush administration has agreed to turn over to international inspectors intelligence data it has collected that it says proves Iran worked on developing a nuclear weapon until a little more than four years ago, according to American and foreign diplomats.

The decision reverses the United States’ longstanding refusal to share the data, citing the need to protect intelligence sources.

The administration acted as the International Atomic Energy Agency is scheduled to issue a report as early as next week on Iran’s past nuclear activities. Administration officials hope that the nuclear inspectors can now confront Iran with what the Americans believe is the strongest evidence that the Iranians had a nuclear program.

The Bush administration’s refusal to turn over the data has been a source of friction with Mohammed ElBaradei, the director general of the agency, who has argued that Iran must be given a fair chance to examine some of the case that Washington has developed.

House Votes to Issue Contempt Citations

The House voted Thursday to issue contempt citations against the White House chief of staff and a former White House counsel for refusing to cooperate in an investigation into the mass firings of federal prosecutors.

The vote to hold Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff, and Harriet E. Miers, the former counsel, in contempt of Congress followed bitter partisan wrangling on the House floor, including a Republican walkout from the chamber, and moved House Democrats closer to a constitutional showdown with President Bush.

The 223-32 vote to issue the contempt citations, the first approved by Congress against the executive branch since the Reagan administration, is likely to move the dispute to a federal courtroom, with House lawyers calling on a judge to enforce subpoenas against Bolten and Miers. The Senate is weighing similar contempt charges against Karl Rove, Bush’s former political adviser.

Bolten and Miers were subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee for information about their part in the dismissal of several U.S. attorneys last year for what appear to have been political reasons.

U.N. to Help Organize Iraqi Elections Set for October

Iraq’s parliament, faced with a stalemate in appointing election commissions in the most populous provinces and accusations of overt politicization of the election process, announced Thursday that it would welcome the United Nations to play a large role in organizing the vote.

Under a law approved by the parliament on Wednesday, provincial elections must be held by Oct. 1.

At a press conference, Staffan de Mistura, the special representative to the U.N. secretary-general, announced a tight schedule for helping set up provincial election commissions and a plan to monitor their work.

The responsibilities of provincial commissioners include selecting polling places, providing and collecting ballots and transferring them to counting stations.

The problem is that many of the nation’s most powerful political parties have divided up most of the seats on the Independent High Election Commission, which oversees national election policy. That means there are few, if any, independent brokers overseeing the election process, according to Iraqi academics and lawmakers.