In brief | Nation & world 091713


Syria deal shines light on suspected Israeli chemical weapons program

JERUSALEM — The U.S.-Russian plan to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons is drawing attention to Israel’s own suspected chemical stockpile and could raise pressure on the Jewish state to come clean about its capabilities.

Israel signed the landmark international treaty banning the production or use of chemical weapons two decades ago, but it is among a handful of nations that have never ratified the deal. While foreign experts widely believe that Israel likely possesses a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, Israeli officials refuse to confirm or deny the existence of any such arsenal.

They say the key issue right now is Syria, not Israel.

In a radio interview Monday, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz declined to discuss the country’s chemical weapons capabilities but said the international community’s attitude toward Israel is “different” from Syria.

“It’s clear to everyone that (Israel) is a democratic, responsible regime,” he told Israel Radio. “I very much hope and am certain that the international community will not make this a central question and we will maintain the status quo.”

Shipwrecked Concordia wrested off Italian reef, yet operation slowed by delays and cable glitch

GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy — Using a vast system of steel cables and pulleys, maritime engineers on Monday gingerly winched the massive hull of the Costa Concordia off the reef where the cruise ship capsized near an Italian island in January 2012.

But progress in pulling the heavily listing luxury liner to an upright position was going much slower than expected. Delays meant the delicate operation — originally scheduled from dawn to dusk Monday — was not expected to be completed before Tuesday morning.

Never before has such an enormous cruise ship been righted. Salvage workers struggled to overcome obstacle after obstacle as they slowly inched toward their goal of raising the crippled ship 65 degrees to the upright position.

An early morning storm delayed the salvage command barge from getting into place for several hours. Later, some of the cables dragging the ship’s hull upright went slack, forcing engineers to climb the hull to fix them.

Seeing potential ‘economic chaos,’ Obama warns GOP on shutdown threat

WASHINGTON — A potential federal shutdown looming, President Barack Obama on Monday warned congressional Republicans they could trigger national “economic chaos” if they demand a delay of his health care law as the price for supporting continued spending for federal operations.

House Republican leaders were to meet Tuesday in hopes of finding a formula that would avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1 without alienating party conservatives who insist on votes to undercut the Affordable Care Act. Even more daunting is a mid- to late-October deadline for raising the nation’s borrowing limit, which some Republicans also want to use as leverage against the Obama administration.

“Are some of these folks really so beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they’re willing to tank the entire economy just because they can’t get their way on this issue?” Obama said in a speech at the White House.

The Republicans don’t see it that way.

House Speaker John Boehner, who opposes the threat of a shutdown, said, “It’s a shame that the president could not manage to rise above partisanship today.” Obama, said Boehner, “should be working in a bipartisan way to address America’s spending problem, the way presidents of both parties have done before,” and should delay implementation of the health care law.

By wire sources