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Iran To Respond To Draft Nuclear Deal

This research reactor in Tehran would receive fuel enriched abroad.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog agency will present Tehran's position on a draft nuclear fuel deal in Vienna on October 29, the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported.

Mehr, citing an informed source, said Ali Asghar Soltanieh would present Iran's formal response to Mohammed el-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It said Soltanieh would leave for Austria on October 28.

Echoing a report by Iranian state television a day earlier, Mehr said Iran would accept the framework of the agreement but also propose changes. It did not give details.

Under the draft deal hammered out by el-Baradei earlier this month in Vienna after consultations with Iran, the United States, France, and Russia, Iran would send low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for further processing.

Another Iranian news agency, ISNA, quoted a senior lawmaker as also saying Iran would present its position on the draft agreement on October 29.

"Iran will present its response to the [UN nuclear] agency's proposal on Thursday," said Mohammad Karamirad, a member of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, ISNA news agency reported.

The draft pact calls for Iran to transfer around 75 percent of its known 1.5 tons of LEU to Russia for further enrichment by the end of this year, then to France for conversion into fuel plates. These would be returned to Tehran to power a research reactor that produces radio-isotopes for cancer treatment.

Senior lawmakers have said Iran should import foreign fuel rather than send abroad by the end of this year much of its own LEU stock -- a crucial strategic asset in talks with world powers -- as the proposal stipulates.

Iran says it is enriching uranium only for power plant fuel, not for nuclear warheads. But its history of nuclear secrecy and continued restrictions on UN inspections has raised Western suspicions that Iran is latently pursuing nuclear weapons capability.

Understandings on the fuel plan and UN monitoring of a newly disclosed enrichment site under construction were forged at Geneva talks on October 1 between Iran and six world powers -- the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany, and Britain.

Iran's pledges in Geneva won it a reprieve from sanctions targeting its oil sector, but Western powers stressed they would not wait indefinitely for Tehran to follow through.