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Good News from Iran


Iran has reportedly agreed to suspend its uranium purification program and to allow snap inspections of its nuclear facilities in return for unspecified technical aid from western countries. Iran claims that its nuclear program is intended to produce energy to replace fossil fuels. This would appear to be very uneconomical since Iran has almost 10% of the world's oil reserves and 16% of the world's gas reserves. A reactor typically costs 2000/KW capacity to build, while a gas turbine generator costs $500 at present.

Details of the agreement worked out between EU diplomats and Iran have not been released, as is evident from the report below.

Ami Isseroff

Iran 'agrees' to key nuclear demands

Iran has reportedly agreed to sign up to tougher United Nations inspections of its nuclear
facilities and suspend enrichment of uranium.
Diplomats say the breakthrough came as European Union foreign ministers held meetings in
Tehran on ways to defuse the crisis over Iran's alleged nuclear programme.

Few details have yet emerged of the deal which appears to signal that Iran has satisfied two
key demands of the UN's nuclear watchdog.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Iran until 31 October to
provide evidence that it is not trying to build nuclear weapons.

Iran agreed full co-operation with the IAEA, France's Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin
announced after the talks with Iranian officials, the French news agency AFP reported.

"This is a very important day," Mr de Villepin said. "We were facing a major issue.
Proliferation is a major challenge to the world, and today we found a solution to the pending

Earlier on Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi promised "total transparency" on
the issue.

As well as meeting Mr Kharrazi, the EU ministers held talks with the head of the Supreme
National Security Council, Hassan Rohani - a meeting seen as crucial.

The European ministers were expected to offer to help Iran have access to technology for
peaceful nuclear energy production if it meets International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands for
tougher inspections of its facilities.

Germany's Joschka Fischer said it was a question of trust and transparency and had warned of a
"serious problem" if Tuesday's talks did not succeed.

The BBC's Tehran correspondent Jim Muir says the three European ministers clearly would not
risk such a high-profile visit unless a large measure of understanding had been reached in advance.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme - which includes uranium-enrichment activities - is
designed to meet its energy needs only.

Quid pro quo?

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is scheduled to meet Mr Fischer and his British and French
counterparts - Jack Straw and Dominique de Villepin - later on Tuesday.

After meeting the ministers, Mr Kharrazi said his country was ready for "total transparency
because we are not pursuing an illegal programme".

But, he insisted, "what's legitimate for us should be respected as well as our dignity and
security" - a reference to Iran's stated ambition of generating its own nuclear power.

And Mr Fischer spoke of "a crucial moment in the international situation".

"It is a question of trust and transparency. If we can agree today it would be a step forward,
if not we have a very serious problem," Mr Fischer told reporters.

Behind the scenes

The European initiative is part of a larger package being spearheaded by the IAEA, which has
called on Iran to accept tougher UN inspections by signing an additional protocol to the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

According to diplomats, France, Germany and the UK have been engaged in a secretive effort to
convince Iran to sign the protocol - which allows for snap inspections of nuclear facilities by the

The agency is also seeking clarification on traces of highly enriched uranium found in samples
taken by its inspectors at an Iranian nuclear facility earlier this year.

Iran insists the traces were the result of contamination on imported equipment.

The three EU countries are believed to have offered technical assistance to Iran in exchange
for its co-operation.

However, diplomats have said that not all outstanding issues had been resolved ahead of the

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