Farhad Pouladi

Farhad Pouladi

    The trial of a group of people accused of rioting after the re-election in June of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president began on Saturday.

    The annual hajj in Saudi Arabia entered its final day on Friday as the last of almost 2,5-million Muslim pilgrims took part in the ritual "stoning of Satan". Eager pilgrims from across the world thronged around the Jamarat Bridge at Mina, east of Mecca, from the early hours to throw pebbles at the three massive pillars representing the devil.

    Iran on Tuesday vowed never to yield to the key Western demand on its nuclear programme after world powers agreed to work on a new resolution that could lead to more United Nations sanctions against Tehran. Diplomats from six key world powers had pledged in London on Monday to work on a new UN Security Council resolution.

    Iranian scientists have begun feeding gas into a second cascade of centrifuges to enrich uranium, defying United Nations threats of sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme, the ISNA news agency reported on Friday. The news brought firm reactions from the United States and France, two of the powers pushing for sanctions.

    Iran warned Western powers on Friday that armed forces would hit back "like lightning" against any attack as it crowed over its military prowess and showed off firepower at a major army parade. Thousands of members of the armed forces and the whole panoply of Iran's ballistic missile arsenal were on display at the parade, including the Shahab-3, a weapon whose range includes arch-enemy Israel.

    Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday ridiculed a European Union plan to offer trade and technology incentives in exchange for his country agreeing to halt sensitive nuclear work. "They think they can take away our gold and give us some nuts and chocolate in exchange," Ahmadinejad told a rally in the town of Arak.

    At least 38 people were killed when a powerful earthquake struck western Iran before dawn on Friday, wiping out villages and sending panicked residents fleeing from their homes. Another 700 people were also injured in the quake, which hit the province of Lorestan near the border with Iraq with a force of six on the Richter scale, officials said.