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Iran, Powers Get Draft Nuclear Deal For Approval


Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, speaks to journalists at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on October 21.
(RFE/RL) -- International Atomic Energy Agency chief Muhammad el-Baradei says Iran and world powers have agreed to consider a draft accord drawn up to help end the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

El-Baradei spoke at a press conference in Vienna after three days of talks between Iranian officials and representatives of the United States, Russia, and France.

"I have circulated a draft agreement that reflects, in my judgment, a balanced approach to how to move forward," he said.

He said the draft is being sent to Tehran and the capitals of the other countries involved for consideration by national leaders.

"The deadline for the parties to give, I hope, affirmative action is [October 23] -- two days from now. And if we do get an affirmative action, then I hope we will have an agreement that we can send to the [IAEA] Board of Governors," he said.

He said that if the draft is approved, it should provide room for negotiations on broader steps to end the nuclear crisis. He praised the attitudes of those attending the three days of intensive discussions in Vienna.

"Everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to help, trying to look to the future and not to the past, trying to heal the wounds that existed for many, many years," el-Baradei said.

Few details of the draft deal are available so far, but diplomats at the talks say it contains a call for Iran to send some 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium reserves abroad before the end of this year for conversion into fuel for a Tehran reactor producing medical isotopes.

This would reduce the risk cited by the West that Iran intends to develop nuclear bombs by trying to refine to a high purity a growing stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

Some diplomats are quoted as saying Russia is the country to which the uranium would be sent for processing into nuclear fuel. Once processed, it is unsuitable for use in atomic weapons.

"That transaction using Iran's low-enriched uranium to be manufactured into fuel is a very important confidence-building measure that can defuse the crisis that has been going on for a number of years and open space for negotiation," el-Baradei said.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, declined to say anything substantive, but he told journalists that all details will be available on October 23.