Three separate bomb blasts killed a total of 19 people in Baghdad during the Monday morning rush hour on November 24, with one attack killing 13 government employees on a bus on their way to work. In the worst of the three incidents, a so-called "sticky bomb" fastened to the side of a bus carrying a group of employees riding to their jobs at the Iraqi Trade Ministry exploded, causing a fire in which four men and nine women perished. Five other victims were treated at a local hospital.
Thousands of people gathered in Baghdad's Firdous Square on November 21 to protest against a pact letting U.S. forces stay in Iraq until 2011. The current UN mandate authorizing the U.S. troop presence expires on December 31. Under the proposed Status of Forces Agreement, U.S. troops will withdraw from the streets of Iraqi towns and cities by June 30, 2009, and the remaining 150,000 would leave Iraq by December 31, 2011.
Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on November 19, that Israel will not attend the UN's World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in Geneva in April. She also urged other nations to follow suit, stating: "We call upon the international community not to participate in this conference, which seeks to legitimize hatred and extremism under the banner of the fight against racism."
Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on November 12, that Iran had test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile capable of much greater range than previous Iranian missiles. The nation's Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar said on state television that the Sajjil is a solid-fuel high-speed missile with a range of about 1,200 miles, enabling a strike against Israel or even southeastern Europe. Najjar said that the missile was part of a "defensive, deterrent strategy ... specifically with defensive objectives."
ITEM: In an article entitled "U.S. says North Korea stuck to nuclear promises," Reuters reported on October 17: "North Korea has kept its promise and reversed steps to restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon after an agreement last weekend between Washington and Pyongyang, the State Department said on Friday. 'The North Koreans have in their efforts reversed all their reversals in the reactor. All the seals are back on, the surveillance equipment is back, reinstalled. And the equipment that had been removed is back where it had been,' said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack."