While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 9

The inside of a reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran in 2010.
The inside of a reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran in 2010.PHOTO: AFP

Iran threatens to enrich uranium to 20 per cent purity as tensions rise

Iran said it had already begun enriching uranium beyond the cap set in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and threatened to boost enrichment to 20 per cent purity, escalating tensions with European partners who are struggling to salvage the accord in the face of tightening US sanctions.

Iran announced on Sunday (July 7) that it would abandon the 3.67 per cent limit for uranium enrichment as it scales back its commitments in response to US penalties reimposed after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement a year ago. It said more steps would be taken to scale back compliance every 60 days unless European parties find ways to ensure it can continue to trade its oil.

"Earlier today, the level of enrichment reached 4.5 per cent," Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told the state-run Iranian Students News Agency. In a separate report, Kamalvandi said Teheran may consider boosting enrichment to as much as 20 per cent purity or using more advanced centrifuges at a later stage. It's "among the options considered," he said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Centrifuges are fast-spinning machines used to enrich uranium.


Lagarde successor at IMF should be European, ministers say

The next head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be a European, the finance ministers of France and Spain said on Monday (July 8) as governments started talks on Christine Lagarde's succession.

"What we want in France is first to have a European Union candidate that can succeed Lagarde as the head of the IMF; secondly, we want to be able to take a decision quickly; thirdly, I want it to be a unique candidate, presented by the EU, without useless rivalries," France's Bruno Le Maire said in Brussels on Monday. Spain's Nadia Calvino said it is a "priority" to appoint a European.

EU leaders nominated Lagarde last week to take over from Mario Draghi as next head of the European Central Bank, sparking speculation over the survival of the longstanding tradition of Europe holding the IMF while the US appoints the head of the World Bank. The fund's past 11 leaders have been European.


Instagram moves on online bullying with pop-up warning

Instagram on Monday (July 8) announced new features aimed at curbing online bullying on its platform, including a warning to people as they are preparing to post abusive remarks.

"It's our responsibility to create a safe environment on Instagram," said a statement from Adam Mosseri, head of the visually focused social platform owned by Facebook.

"This has been an important priority for us for some time, and we are continuing to invest in better understanding and tackling this problem." One new tool being rolled out is a warning generated by artificial intelligence to notify users their comment may be considered offensive before it is posted.


UK's Labour Party moves closer to opposing Brexit

Britain's main opposition Labour party moved a step closer on Monday (July 8) to a policy that could see it reverse Brexit - but only in some circumstances.

Labour-affiliated trade unions agreed to support holding a new referendum on any divorce deal that the Conservative government strikes with the European Union, according to a party source.

If such a referendum were held, they would campaign to stay in the bloc, in opposition to the vote for Brexit in 2016.


Tennis: American teenager Cori Gauff's magical Wimbledon run over after losing to Simona Halep

Coco Gauff's dreamy first Wimbledon came to an end in the fourth round on Monday (July 8).

Gauff, a precocious 15-year-old American, was defeated, 6-3, 6-3, by Simona Halep, the No. 7 seed and a former No. 1 player, who proved too consistent and resourceful from the baseline for the 313th-ranked youngster.

But Monday's defeat hardly erased the impact that Gauff made in the first week of her first Wimbledon. After receiving a wild card into the qualifying tournament, she won six straight matches: three in qualifying and three in the main singles draw. She defeated five-time Wimbledon singles champion Venus Williams and veterans Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog.