europeans rush to defuse american excuse for war

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    Preliminary nuclear deal reached with EU, Iran says
    ABC Online

    Iran says it has reached a preliminary deal over its disputed nuclear program with the European Union's three big powers that could avert UN Security Council sanctions.

    EU sources had said that while progress was made during two days of talks in Paris, the two sides remained far apart on key issues.

    The Paris talks, which ended late on Saturday between British, French and German officials on one side and Iranians on the other, centred on Tehran's uranium enrichment activities.

    The EU trio told Iran it must freeze enrichment - a process used to purify uranium into nuclear reactor fuel or to make bomb-grade material - before the November 25 board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    Failure to do so could mean Iran's case would be referred to the United Nations Security Council, which could impose economic sanctions.

    "Negotiations were very hard and complicated but we reached a preliminary agreement on an expertise level," said Hossein Mousavian, head of Iran's delegation in Paris. "It is a framework that contains the viewpoints of all sides."

    "All four delegations are supposed to go to their capitals and if the capitals agree with the agreement, it will be officially announced in the next few days," he told state television.

    Iran says its atomic plants are geared solely to electricity generation and denies US accusations that they are a front for a bomb-making program.

    Tehran has so far resisted demands that it scrap efforts to produce its own reactor fuel, saying it has the right to do so as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    "If the capitals do not agree with it, we have to announce that negotiations have failed but I am not pessimistic about this," he said.

    "My understanding is that if high officials agree with this agreement, there will be a great transformation in Iran-Europe relations in the near future."

    EU officials were less bullish.

    "At the end of difficult talks, the two parties made considerable progress towards a provisional agreement on a common approach on these issues," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

    An EU source close to the negotiations said: "Nothing is settled ... The discussions were difficult, very difficult. The Iranians struggled hard."

    "Everyone has to touch base now," the source added after the second day of talks. "There is no [further] meeting planned."

    Mr Mousavian said the agreement discussed "contains political, economic, security and technological cooperation between Iran and Europe." He offered no further specifics.

    The EU trio have promised Iran help with a nuclear energy program and various other incentives such as the resumption of stalled trade talks provided Iran scraps its nuclear fuel cycle activities such as enrichment.

    Iran has said that while it is prepared to suspend enrichment as a confidence-building measure for up to six months, it will never give up its right to develop such technology entirely.

    - Reuters

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