Must-Reads from Around the World

Iran pushes ahead with the construction of a nuclear reactor, China unveils its first pilot carbon-trading program and rebels in the DRC have declared a ceasefire ahead of a visit by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

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AP / Vahid Salemi, File

An Iranian technician works at the uranium conversion facility just outside the city of Isfahan.

Iran‘s Nuclear Plant — A U.N. report shows that Iran is pushing ahead with the construction of a nuclear research reactor that, according to Western experts, could eventually make plutonium for weapons, notes Reuters. The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also announced that Iran now has the capacity to refine uranium, which could be turned into the fissile core of an atomic bomb if it is enriched to a higher level. The report also shows that Iran asphalted part of a military site that U.N. inspectors wanted to visit. The move has raised suspicions that Iran is trying to cover up traces of possible nuclear-weapons-related experiments at Parchin. Tehran has denied accusations that it is building a nuclear weapons program and has claimed that it needs nuclear technology for energy and medical purposes and to keep Israel‘s nuclear arsenal at bay.

Hacking in China — The New York Times reports that hacking is widely accepted and sometimes even promoted in China, partly because the government insists on keeping tabs on anyone deemed subversive or suspicious. Hacking thrives in Chinese government, corporate sector and criminal world. “Some hackers,” according to the Times, “see crime as more lucrative than legitimate work, but opportunities for skilled hackers to earn generous salaries abound, given the growing number of cybersecurity companies providing network defense services to the government, state-owned enterprises and private companies.

Carbon-Trading — China has unveiled its first pilot carbon-trading program, which is set to begin in the southern city of Shenzhen next month, points out the Guardian. The Shenzhen branch of the National Development and Reform Commission announced that, for now, the program will cover 638 companies responsible for nearly 40% of the city’s total carbon emissions. Eventually, the program will expand to include companies in transportation, manufacturing and construction. Beijing plans to roll out pilot carbon trading programs in six other cities before 2014.

Congo Ceasefire – Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have declared a ceasefire ahead of a visit to the restive area by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, reports the BBC. At least 20 people have been killed since Monday in heavy fighting between government forces and the rebels, who are known as the M23. One person was killed in a rocket attack on Wednesday in the regional capital Goma, where Ban, who is said to be deeply concerned about the renewed fighting in the area, is due to visit. But a political spokesman announced that the group was declaring a ceasefire in order to allow Ban to proceed with his planned trip. Earlier, the World Bank unveiled a $1 billion aid package to help the DRC — where an estimated 800,000 people have fled their homes since the M23 launched its rebellion last May — and its neighbors with health, education, cross-border trade and hydroelectricity projects, reports the BBC.

E.U. Tax Evasion – European Union officials have reported a €1 trillion ($1.29 trillion) annual loss as a result of tax dodgers, notes the Independent. In an effort to tackle tax evasion, all 27 heads of state have agreed in principle to share bank account information by the end of the year. Previous agreements of this nature have failed to materialize, partially due to opposition from Austria and Luxembourg who hold a financial interest in maintaining banking secrecy. The proposed legislation, the Savings Directives, would automatically share information about E.U. citizens’ bank accounts, which would supposedly highlight signs of tax evasion – although the legislation would not tackle corporations who dodge taxes. The Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann, called it “a bad day for tax cheats,” writes the daily.