TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Hoping to avoid a U.N. showdown, Iran
and the European Union’s three big powers reached a
preliminary agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program,
Iran’s chief negotiator said yesterday.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Iran’s conservative-dominated
parliament pushed for a bill banning the production of nuclear
weapons in a gesture of building more international trust.

The preliminary agreement worked out in Paris with Britain,
France and Germany could be finalized in the next few days, chief
Iranian negotiator Hossein Mousavian told state-run Iranian
television from the French capital, where talks wrapped up

If approved, the deal would be a major breakthrough after months
of threats and negotiations and could spare Iran from being taken
before the U.N. Security Council, where the United States has
warned it would seek to impose economic sanctions unless Tehran
gives up all uranium enrichment activities, a technology that can
produce nuclear fuel or atomic weapons.

Diplomats in Austria familiar with the talks’ outcome
declined to discuss details. “One or two points remain
outstanding, and they hope to resolve those outstanding points by
Wednesday,” one diplomat in Austria told The Associated

In proposals to Iran last month, Britain, Germany and France
offered a trade deal and peaceful nuclear technology —
including a light-water research reactor — if Iran pledged to
indefinitely suspend uranium enrichment and related activities such
as reprocessing uranium and building centrifuges used to enrich

Europe and Washington fear Iran is trying to build nuclear
weapons, but Tehran denies such claims, saying its atomic program
has peaceful aims, including energy production.

“We had 22 hours of negotiations … They were very
difficult and complicated negotiations, but we reached a
preliminary agreement at the expert level,” Mousavian said.
He said the four countries must now ask their governments to
approve the accord.

The preliminary agreement appeared to mark a dramatic
breakthrough, since Iranian officials have resisted indefinite or
long-term suspension of nuclear enrichment, a process that Iran is
permitted to pursue under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,
which Tehran has signed.

While not being in breach of the treaty, Iran is under heavy
international pressure to drop such plans as a good- faith

“If this is approved by all four parties, we will witness
an important change in Iran’s relations with Europe and much
of the international community in (the) not-too-distant
future,” Mousavian said without elaborating on the

The Europeans had warned Iran that they will back
Washington’s threat to refer the Islamic republic to the U.N.
Security Council for possible sanctions unless it gives up all
uranium enrichment activities before a Nov. 25 meeting of the
International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

Tehran suspended uranium enrichment last year but has refused to
stop other related activities such as reprocessing uranium or
building centrifuges, insisting its program is intended purely for
the production of fuel for nuclear power generation.

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