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The head of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog met Tuesday with Iranian officials to press for greater access in the Islamic Republic ahead of diplomatic talks restarting over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. (Angela Weiss/AFP/TNS)
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The head of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog met Tuesday with Iranian officials to press for greater access in the Islamic Republic ahead of diplomatic talks restarting over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. (Angela Weiss/AFP/TNS)

Credit: TNS

UN nuclear watchdog chief presses for more access in Iran

The head of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog met Tuesday with Iranian officials to press for greater access in the Islamic Republic ahead of diplomatic talks restarting over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency yet again faces tightrope-style talks with Iranian officials as his inspectors remain unable to access surveillance footage and face greater challenges in trying to monitor Tehran’s rapidly growing uranium stockpile. In the wake of then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from Iran’s deal, the Islamic Republic now enriches small amounts of uranium up to 60% purity — its highest ever and close to weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Justice Dept. asks court to reinstate vaccination policy for businesses

The Biden administration on Tuesday asked a federal appeals court to reinstate its COVID vaccination or testing requirement for private businesses “as soon as possible” and to get rid of an earlier ruling that has temporarily blocked one of the White House’s signature policies, set to take effect in January.

Dozens of legal challenges primarily from Republican-led states, private employers and conservative groups have been consolidated before a single court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Before the cases were combined this month, a different set of judges halted the policy, finding that the Labor Department exceeded its authority.

West Africa has highest numbers of child soldiers, says UN

Trapped in conflicts, the children of West and Central Africa are the most recruited by armed groups in the world and also have the highest number of victims of sexual violence, says a report released Tuesday by the United Nations Children’s Fund.

For five years, the region has seen increased conflicts in which more than 21,000 children have been recruited by government forces and armed groups, says the report. In addition, more than 2,200 children in the region have been victims of sexual violence since 2016, says the report.

More than 3,500 children have been abducted, making it the region with the second-highest abductions in the world, said the report.

German soldiers face vaccine mandate as COVID cases rise

The German military is making coronavirus shots compulsory for troops amid a growing debate in the country about whether to introduce a general vaccine mandate to counter rising infection and hospitalization rates.

The Defense Ministry on Tuesday confirmed a report in the German military blog Augen Geradeaus that officials and soldiers’ representatives agreed late Monday to add the coronavirus shot to the list of vaccines soldiers must get. The measure still needs to be formally added to military regulations, the ministry said in a statement.

There were 1,215 reported active coronavirus cases as of Monday within the military and the ministry’s civilian staff.