Must-Reads from Around the World

Military stakes set to rise in Asia-Pacific, Bangladesh forcefully tries to keep its place as a low-cost export powerhouse and fresh leaks on Iran's nuclear program.

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Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends an unveiling ceremony of new nuclear projects in Tehran in this February 15, 2012 file photo

Iran Whispers Citing diplomatic sources, Reuters reports Iran has installed many more uranium enrichment machines in an underground bunker, “potentially paving the way for a significant expansion of work the West fears is ultimately aimed at making nuclear bombs.” Meanwhile, insiders tell the Associated Press the U.N. nuclear agency is forming a special Iran team, “to add muscle to a probe of suspicions that Tehran worked secretly on atomic arms.”

Arms Race — The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. is planning a major expansion of missile defenses in Asia –“a move American officials say is designed to contain threats from North Korea, but one that could also be used to counter China’s military.” Yet the South China Morning Post flags recent reports Beijing is developing a new “intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) equipped with multiple nuclear warheads that could defeat America’s anti-missile defenses.”

Labor Strife — The New York Times reports from Bangladesh, “an export powerhouse, second only to China in global apparel exports,” but where the “manufacturing formula depends on its having the lowest labor costs in the world.” Garment workers earning a minimum wage of $37 a month have begun protesting after being stung by double-digit inflation, it said. “In response, Bangladeshi leaders have deployed the security tools of the state to keep factories humming.”

Brutal Assassin — The Associated Press observes how a “falling out between the leaders of the hyper-violent Zetas cartel appears to have put the gang in the hands of a brutal and feared gangster”, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, who has been held responsible for Mexico’s “once relatively calm central states” erupting into bloodshed. Trevino is viewed by lawmen and “even competing drug capos” as a “brutal assassin” who rids himself of foes by “stuffing them into oil drums, dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire.”

Issue of Sanity — Following the sentencing of Anders Behring Breivik, who last July killed 77 people in a bomb attack and shooting spree in Norway, to 21 years in prison, the Guardian comments that the real issue at stake was not guilt, which “was never in question,” but sanity, with Breivik’s mental state constituting “the central narrative of the trial.” Meanwhile the BBC interviews Vanessa Svebakk, whose 14-year-old daughter Sharidyn was Breivik’s youngest victim, who describes the verdict as “a victory for our families,” and said, as a mother, it has given her “relief.”