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Tonight - agreement close on

a nuclear deal for North Korea.

Return fire. John Howard

launches his Iraq

counter-offensive. Why the Dog

on the Tucker Box is not

sitting so pretty. And from

hero to zero. Stuart Clark

dumped from the World Cup.

Good evening. Juanita

Phillips with ABC News. Could a

deal finally be at hand, or is

North Korea once again toying

with the West? Pyongyang is

said to be on the verge of

dumping its nuclear ambitions

in exchange for massive amounts

of aid from the West. Tentative

agreement has been reached

during talks in China, but it

still has to be formally

ratified by Kim Jong Il's

government. And some critics

say that by rewarding North

Korea for ending its nuclear brinkmanship, negotiators are

sending out the wrong signal.

Stephen McDonnell reports from

Beijing. According to today's

draft proposal, North Korea

will forgo nuclear weapons in

exchange for generous energy

subsidies. At international

disarmament talks in Beijing,

all delegates nug the US and

North Korea have agreed. Yes,

we've approved it. To best of

my knowledge we've approved it. Under the deal, North

Korea would reportedly give up

its plutonium producing reactor

at Yongbyon, related lab tros

and other scientific facility

and all further nuclear weapons

research. The talks nearly collapsed yesterday with North

Korea asking for more energy

subsidies than other nations

were prepared to give. Then at

2am local time, South Korea's

envoy announced a breakthrough TRANSLATION:

North Korea basically agreed to

all the measures in the draft.

In ex change for giving up its nuclear weapons, North Korea

will receive millions of tonnes

of heavy oil and generous

electricity supplies from South

Korea. The Chinese government's

strategy has always been to

offer North Korea a deal too

good to refuse. Critics say the

isolated regime of Kim Jong Il

is being rewarded for bad

behaviour. Others say taking

nuclear weapons out of North

Korea is worth a high price.

The deal still has to be

approved by the governments

involved and could get falter

but a does nuclearised Corey

Riaan peninsula is much closer today. John Howard returned

fire today in his war of words

with Kevin Rudd over Iraq. The

Prime Minister accused the

Opposition Leader of lacking

the guts to talk about the

consequences of an American

withdrawal. He's also rejected

a challenge from Mr Rudd to a

televised debate on Iraq. Best

buddies John Howard and George

W. Bush may be, but the White

House won't touch the Prime

Minister's row with Democrat

presidential hopeful Barack

Obama with a barge pole. We're

not commenting on democratic

candidates. People have tried

to get us to bite on that a

number of times. Eager to

distance Mr Bush from the

fall-out from Mr Howard's

assertion that al-Qaeda would

applaud a Democrat victory, the

White House pointed out that

the Prime Minister and the

President had not spoken in at

least a month. Presidential

spokesman Tony Snow rolled his

eyes when questioned about

Senator Obama's suggestion for

Mr Howard to send more troops

to Iraq. I would defer to the

commanders in chief of the

other nations. Credibility was

the battleground in Canberra after Kevin Rudd twice ducked

questions about the impact of

an American withdrawal from

Iraq. I'm not in the business

of providing a rolling external commentary. Repeatedly the

Prime Minister accused the

Opposition Leader of lacking

courage. I have been attacked

and lacerated by the opposition

for expressing my view. The

Leader of the Opposition

doesn't have the guts to

express his. Mr Howarded brand

a challenge from Mr Rudd to a

televised debate on Iraq a stunt. If the Leader of the

Opposition wants to address

anybody anywhere in Australia,

he he's free to do so That's a

no. The Iraq row is overshadowing other big topic

of the times, climate change

but today Labor wanted to know

why John Howard's $10 billion

plan to take over the

Murray-Darling had not gone to

Cabinet, while spending of a

quarter of a million on a coach

for the Queen had. Appropriate

processes were followed in both cases. But according to Finance Minister Nick Minchin, $10

billion is not that much

anyway. $1 billion a year,

which is less than half a per

cent of Commonwealth Government

expenditure. Let's keep it in perspective. Not the Prime

Minister's perspective. He has

been lauding it as the biggest,

the boldest and the most

costly.

It's been a campaign by any

other name for months. Now it's

about to start in earnest.

Morris Iemma will formally

launch Labor's bid for

re-election on Sunday, much

earlier than traditional. Peter

Debnam has welcomed the move

saying the sooner the public

focus on policies the better.

The Premier's handlers tried

their best today to breathe

life into an election campaign

lacking much of a pulse. Is he

in good shape? (LAUGHTER) Looks

fine to me. Labor's breaking

tradition by officially

launching its bid for a fourth

term in office on Sunday, a

full five weeks before voters

go to the polls. We're off and

running, taking our message to

the community, to the people.

The Opposition Leader isn't bothered by the early bothered by

start. From my point of view

the campaign is off and

running. We've been campaigning

for 18 months. Morris Iemma

has spent his time in the top

job desperate to escape the shadow of his predecessor and

present himself as his own man

so there will be no Labor

luminaries at the campaign

launch and it will be held

up in south-western close to where he was brought

Sydney. It's my personal

style. Water remains the

dominant election issue. The

opposition is still pushing

rainwater tanks. Its latest

pledge would give householders

an extra $1,200 to help connect

tanks to toilets and washing

machines. Our aim is to n

courage another 120 households

to install tanks in New South

Wales omp the next four years.

That will capture a lot of

water. The government says at $200 million, the promise is

not affordable. It's a rebate that households will never

see. But the Premier's

credibility has taken a hit

from a member of his

government's own water advisory

panel. Chris Davis says it's

wrong to dismiss recycled

drinking water as being too

costly. Recycling is a cogent

option and it should be

considered, and in the right

conditions, it's cheaper than

desalination. It's an issue

certain to resurface as the

campaign gathers speed.

As the federal and State

Governments maintain their

stand-off over water, farmers

on a key section of the

Murray-Darling basin are

begging the Commonwealth to

step in. With no water-sharing

plan in place, big stretches of

the Darling River have dried

up, and the drought is making

it worse. Environment reporter

Sarah Clarke has been looking

at the river's plight below

Bourke in far western New South

Wales. This once gushing

stretch of the Darling River is

now a series of pools in a

sandy riverbed. Much of the

water has been used for

irrigation, and the river's

running dry. Yeah, it's a bit

disappointing that the kids

have to see the mighty Darling

as it is now. The McClure

family are fifth generation

farmers on these floodplains.

Ther above the weir which means there is currently a flow but

this stretch is unregulated and

an overallocation of water has

diverted a lot of the

river. What we need is a total

national structure that can

manage flows from top to

bottom, right from the top of -

right from the Darling Downs

right through to Adelaide. And

until that happens, we will

have chaos. Mark Etheridge

depends on these floodplains,

but it's been years since the

water has broken its banks. The

floodplain needs to get wet to

be grazed, so when a flow event

doesn't reach the floodplain,

that's a hugely - a huge

economic cost to me. Even when

there is water, there they're often stag nant pools. As a

result there are problems with

blue green algae and salt can

be 30 times higher than acceptable levels. Experts agree with the Federal

Government's push to have the

whole Murray-Darling basin

managed as one. And then we

need to regulate that

floodplain so that we get back

to a stage where we've got

basically ecologically

sustainable levels. Graziers

say action sooner rather than

later may save what's left.

A man believed to be an army

reservist is being questioned

over a haul of weapons and

ammunition found in his

suburban Sydney home. Police

and Customs officials found

dozens of detonators, land

mines, anti-tank mines and

anti-personnel mines at the

home in the north-western

suburb of Kings Langley. It's

not yet known if the weapons

were from the Australian Army,

but soldiers were called in to

take it away. Neighbours were

shocked. He's a very

mild-mannered man. Very

friendly. Helpful. Customs

organised the raid after

finding a timer fuse and a

landmine in and in a parcel

addressed to the man. At least

10 people are dead and several

have been injured in two

separate shooting incidents in

the US. Two lone gunmen went on

killing rampages in Utah and

Philadelphia. Jus before 9 at

night a man started shooting

randomly at people in a Salt

Lake City shopping mall. We

just heard six gunshots, and

the police came up and told

everyone to get out of the

mall, and everyone was running

and ... we saw - as we were

leaving, there was a teenager

that was shot in front of Wells

Fargo. We were all trapped

inside the spaghetti factory.

Some of us went upstairs, some

of us went to the kitchen.

That's about all I know. A lot

of us were calling 911. People

were panicking, krik. It was

horrible! The man killed five

people before a policeman shot

him dead. Another man opened

fire during a board meeting in

an office in Philadelphia's

Navy yard. He killed three men

and wounded a fourth before

turning the gun on himself.

The federal Attorney-General

has spoken out following

another bizarre twist in the

case of convicted drug smuggler

Schapelle Corby. Her sister is

trading public insummits with a

former family friend who in a television interview claimed

the family had a history of

drug use. The friend, Jodie

Power, said Mercedes Corby also

told her she had previously

smuggled drugs into Bali. The

Attorney-General says he is

concerned. There is a proper

basis, a proper basis in which

people who have information

ought to make it available to

appropriate authorities. And

that doesn't appear to be the

case here. Mercedes Corby says

her former friend is a liar and

is the threatening to sue.

From household pet to potential

life saver. Researchers in

Sydney hope the humble zebra

fish can help them find a cure

for fatal wasting diseases like

muscular dystrophy. They want

to find out how the fish is

able to rebuild its own body

parts and then apply that to

people. It's only a little

fish, but it could hold a big

clue for medical research. For

years, scientists have been

trying to work out why some

creatures such as fish can

regrow damaged body parts and

why humans can't. What can we

turn on and off to produce this

proliferate ive or regenerative capacity in a fish? Researchers at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute are

studying the zebra fish, a fish

found in many home tanks across

the country. They say the zebra

fish is hardy and adaptable,

and under a microscope, its

parts are easy to study. That gives investigators such as

myself a very powerful leg-up

to try to understand the way

those tissues and organs form

in the body. Humans lose the

ability to regenerate muscle at

birth. If the secret to that

ability in fish could be

applied to humans, it could

unlock a cure for diseases like

muscular dystrophy. So far, the

team has worked out which cells are responsible for

regeneration. What we really

want to know is how we control

that minutely. This is the first time muscle development

has been studyed in a creature

other than laboratory mice or

chickens.

Anti-whaling activists in

the Southern Ocean say they're

staying put until the

Australian Government stops

Japanese whaling ships plying

their trade. The Federal

Environment Minister has called

for calm after a collision

between one of the whalers and

a ship run by the protest group

Sea Shepherd.

In the Southern Ocean,

confrontation between

conservationists and Japan's

scientific whalers. In these

pictures, the conservationists

are on the left. The Japanese

vessel is on the right. Each

side blames the other for the

collision. Then the 'Kailo

Maru' came alongside and

sideswiped the 'Roger Hunter',

pushing it into some ice. That

put a hole or a penetration

through the hull in the forward

bow. Japan has accused the

environmental group of bringing

terror to its anti-whaling

campaign. It's piracy,

terrorists, very dangerous. I

cordially ask the government of

Australia and New Zealand to

take appropriate actions.

Australia's staying out of the

argument but it urging Sea

Shepherd not to use

violence. Dangerous conduct,

whether it's in support of

their campaign against whaling

or not, is totally

unacceptable. In Tokyo today,

Japan launched its latest

effort to be allowed to return

to commercial whaling.

Frustrated by years of

stalemate in the International

Whaling Commission, it's organised this meeting to try

to bring reform. It's invited

all 72 members of the IWC, but

just 30 of them turned up for

the opening session. I strongly

believe that if the commission

is to survive, changes in the

way it does its business are

definitely required. Outside,

there was a small protest

linking Japan's overseas aid

program to the presence of some

of the pro-whaling countries at

the meeting. Japan says it will

push ahead with reform despite

the boycott by anti-whaling

nations. It says without change

the IWC faces an uncertain

future.

Tonight's top story -

agreement within reach on a

North Korea nuclear deal. And

still to come - the ins and

outs of Australia's World Cup

cricket squad.

The Iranian President has

strongly denied US allegations

that his country is arming and

assists insurgents in Iraq. In

a rare interview with American television, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

said Tehran was opposed to

bloodshed in Iraq.

TRANSLATION: Think that

Americans have made a mistake

in Iraq, and unfortunately,

they are losing and this is a

shame for Americans, of course,

and that's why they are trying

to point their fingers to other

people. Meanwhile, the

violence is continuing in

Baghdad. Bombers hit crowded

marketplaces in the Iraqi capital, killing nearly 90

people. The first blast

interrupted a plea for unity by

Iraq's Prime Minister. He kept

talking despite a second explosion. The attacks came on

the anniversary of the bombing

of a Shia shrine in Samarra

that triggered the worsening violence. In response to

mounting concerns, US President

George W. Bush has dismissed

talk that the US is preparing

an attack on Iran. East Timor

has asked for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in

Dili to be extended by 12

months. The country's Prime

Minister, Jose Ramos Horta,

made the plea at the UN Security Council in New

York. There are no quick

York. There are no quick fixes,

but an extra effort, investment

in our country would go a long

way. Over 1,000 UN police are

in East Timor as sporadic

violence there continues.

They're protected by 800

Australian troops and a smaller

contingent from New Zealand.

The Security Council is due to

vote on the issue next week.

Finance now. The share market moved into new territory

today with the All Ordinaries

closing above 5,900 for the

first time.

It wasn't a particularly big

rise, a quarter of 1%, but

another record high

nevertheless. The index has now

put on 4.7% since the start of

the year and almost 2% since

the start of February. There

seems to be no stopping this

market. Today's excitement was

a story in 'The Times' of London overnight that BHP

Billiton and Rio Tinto are both

looking at a US $40 billion

takeover bid for Alcoa. The US

aluminium giant. There was a 6%

jump today in the share price

of Alumina Limited, the local

company that owns 40% of Alcoa

World Alumina and Chemicals, or

AWAC, which is Alcoa's 60%

owned refining business. BHP

shares fell 3 cents and Rio

Tinto's fell 26 cents. There

were some other big moves today

on the smart. Shares in Seek

the employment web site jumped

10% after the company reported

a better than expected profit.

Uranium miner ERA rose 8%,

Cochlear went up more than 4%.

On the downside, Great Southern

Plantations went back into

reverse, reacting to last

week's tax ruling on

non-forestry managed investment

schemes. Telstra T3 units fell

2% and News Corp last 1.9%.

China announced a trade surplus

of US $15.9 billion for

January, the fourth month in a

row it's gone down. As the

graph shows the surplus in

October was a record, since

when it's fallen by almost a

third. We love that! China

exporting less and importing

more. With any luck, they'll go

into deficit like us, which will probably put us into

surplus. Finally the Australian

dollar continued to ease today,

although it did rise slightly against the euro.

If you're a police officer

who uses drugs, it's soon going

to be much harder to escape

detection. The number of random

tests conducted on New South

Wales Police is going up from

about 500 a year to more than

2,000. The Police Union

supports the move, and has

welcomed the State Government's

decision not to introduce hair

tests, which can detect drugs

for a much longer period. Hair

testing, we support in

Australian standard at this principle. However, there is no

point in time and it is

currently problematic inasmuch

as it requires a large sample

of hair to be taken out at the

root, which obviously has some

particular problems. Tests

will also be done for illegal

steroids. The dog's still there

and so is the Tucker Box but

you can forget about the

tucker! On the famous road to

Gundagi, fast food giants have

taken away the passing trade

that kept the traditional kiosk

going and today the local

council called for help to put

it back in business. You know

it's all gone to the dogs when

they come to take the ice-cream

freezer away as they did at the

kiosk today, just as the

council was chewing over the

dog's future.

SONG: # There's a track

winding back ... # The dog's

been sitting on the Tucker Box

here almost as long as the

bridge has been straddling

Sydney Harbour. They both

turned 75 this year. But fast

food has killed the kiosk

behind the statue to the dog.

It's sad to hear that the

business next door hasn't been

able to make a go of it. The

multinationals just a couple of

hundred metres away have driven

the customers away, after all

these years. They should keep a

bit of the tradition and have a

little cafe. Some travellers

still stop here but not in the numbers they used to. If they

want a feed, they have to bring

it with them. Ironically, the

dog on the Tucker Box has been

left with no tucker to defend.

Nothing he'd want to anyway. It

doesn't take a lot of

imagination to see that the dog

got wind of fast food some time

ago. And clearly turned his

nose up at it. Gundagi Council

is chasing its tail. The full

options we're not really sure

of. We will need some expert

help determine just exactly

what choices council has. So

the council will be calling for

ex -- expressions of interest

to make the kiosk come to life,

not as a fast food thing, something more authentic.

Whatever, the dog will sit and

stay, even if he's not sure

where his master's voice is

coming from. Australia's best

Test bowler over the last 12

months Stuart Clark has been

left out of the one day squad

for the World Cup. Clark has

lost out to South Australian

fast bowler Shaun Tait.

While New South Wales

wicketkeeper batsman Haddin has

also been included as covered

for Gilchrist. Stuart Clark has

been the stand-out Test bowler

for pause in recent times but

his form hasn't been enough to

book a ticket to the World

Cup. He is desperately unlucky

not to be in the squad. But

there is always going to be a couple of guys who feel that

way. Dropped from the

Tri-Series finals squad, Clark

responded with 8/58, including

a hat trick against WA. The

selectors responded by picking

speedster Shaun Tait in their

15-man squad. We think it's an

attacking move. We've picked

someone what we think can help

us win a World Cup. The

selectors have gambled on Tait,

who has played just two one-day

internationals. On the right

day, it can be quite lethal and

hopefully clean up a few

wickets. They've also gambled

on Symonds. He is recovering

from surgery on a bicep injury

and is no guarantee of being

fit. I sort of firmly believe

that I'm going to take part -

play hopefully half of the

World Cup, if not more. With

that in mind, we thought the

risk of taking him so shortly

after surgery was warranted.

New South Wales wicketkeeper batsman Haddin has also won a

place in the squad. He is our

quickest runner over 20 or 30m

in the contracted player list.

So that indicates he will get

round the field okay. He throws

the ball pretty well. The

Australians begin their

campaign for a third straight

World Cup against Scotland in St Kitts on 13 March.

The Australian Rugby Union

is hoping interest in the World

Cup and national broadcast

coverage on ABCTV will generate

momentum for its newest

professional competition, the

Championship. Already we're Australian Rugby

geting a real sense of

commitment from the many unions

involved, that's New South

Wales, the Victorian,

Queensland, ACT and WA rugby

unions. There is a sense of

excitement as these teams start

to evolve and develop.

Committed for the next three

years, the ABC will televise

two live games every weekend in

its first foray into professional rugby since the

1991 World Cup. The competition

kicks off on August 11 and will

last for two months. Sydney FC

has appointed former NSL coach

Branko Culina to guide the club

through its campaign to win the Asian Champions League. The new

coach has been signed to a

short-term contract, but he's a

favourite to get the job on a

full-time basis. It's a new

beginning for me, for the

players some new players have

come into the squad for the

Asian Champions League, and we

will all be very, very

determined to prove ourselves.

Culina takes over the role from

Terry Butcher who was sacked.

To mark her 50 years on

stage, Edna Everage says she

intends to run for Prime

Minister. Federal politics will

never be the same! Dame Edna

has reached a milestone that is

the envy of most in show

business - 50 years on stage. I

have been going a long time,

and so perhaps I get to be a

fogey. Wouldn't that be awful

if I did! She says too many

politicians are like boring old

fogeys, so it's time to spice

things up, and run for

PM. Hillary Clinton urged me to

go into politics in Australia.

And she said "You're lucky

because your husband is dead."

(LAUGHTER) The self-proclaimed gigastar says as Prime Minister, she'd

address the water crisis by

using Sydney Harbour as a dam,

the Dame Dam, and fill it with greywater. All the nursing

homes could feed into

it. (LAUGHTER) Hospitals. And I

think it would be a perfect reservoir. Dame Edna also

wants to start a new family, by

adopting Anna Nicole Smith's

baby. It's going to come to

Australia and be brought up and

the Prime Minister will be

pleased to hear this, with

Australian

values. (LAUGHTER) Australian

values! Oh! And while as a new

mother with a life in politics

sounds like a handful, Dame

Edna says there's still time

for romance on Valentine's Day,

hoping for it mile-high. I'm

going on a special Qantas

flight. To where? It doesn't

matter! (LAUGHTER) I'm sure

I'll bump into someone

interesting! I'm hoping Little

Ralph will be on board. Ho!

And for those desperate for

love on Valentine's Day, Dame

Edna's advice - it only comes when you're not looking for it.

Hard act to follow! Here's

Mike Bailey with the

weather. It is a hard act to

follow! Still good isolated

falls of line, but Sydney was

back to mostly fine today. --

falls of rain.

The cloud is still swirling around Brisbane and the north

of New South Wales. There is

also a trough in the north west

of the State and a chance of

thunderstorms or showers over

the next day or two. The main

area of rain again likely to be

the northern half of the coast

and nearby inland tomorrow.

Also the chance of a thundery

shower about the south east as

well. Shower or two likely for

Melbourne and Hobart.

Thanks, Mike. Tonight's top

stories again - North Korea

could be set to shelf its

nuclear ambitions in exchange

for energy assistance from the

West. The Prime Minister has

accused the Opposition Leader

of lacking the guts to talk

about the consequences of an

American withdrawal from Iraq.

And Test cricket hero Stuart

Clark has been left out of the

one-day squad for the World

Cup. That's ABC News for this

Tuesday. The 7.30 Report is

next, and I will be back with

an update in an hour.

Goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI

By serving them whale for

lunch I wanted to tell stubt

students that whale meat has

been eaten since the old

days. Tonight - Japan's new

diplomatic push to keep whale

meat on the men u. Some may

prefer to eat beef but overs

may prefer to eat whale. We do

not believe there is any need

to conduct whaling in 2007. We

do not believe it can be

conducted humanely. And -

diving into history, the

forgotten leer os of

Gallipoli. 'AE2' is a story

that just has to be told. CC