TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said Monday a preliminary agreement
reached between Iran and the European Union’s three big
powers may be finalized soon, but hard-liners criticized the deal
and called on the government to ignore calls to keep suspending
nuclear activities.

The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog praised the deal as
“a step in the right direction” and said he hoped it
would be finalized in “the next few days.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the Vienna-based International
Atomic Energy Agency, also said he hopes the agreement will
“lead to the desired outcome” — a suspension of
Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities and “open the way
for normalization of Iran’s relations with the international
community.”

The preliminary agreement worked out Sunday in Paris with
Britain, France and Germany needs to be approved by all four
countries involved.

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 economic sanctions unless Tehran gives up all
uranium enrichment activities, a technology that can produce
nuclear fuel or atomic weapons.

“The trend of negotiations was a positive trend,”
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told state-run television
Monday. “We hope the deal between Iran and Europeans can be
finalized and create the necessary confidence.”

The hard-line daily Jomhuri-e-Eslami denounced the accord on its
front page and urged the government to ignore European demands.

“Despite the fact that the Europeans cannot be trusted has
been proven to all, unfortunately these people (Iranian
negotiators) have again reached agreement with these three traitor
European countries,” the daily said.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Hossein Mousavian, said
Sunday the agreement included the basic viewpoints of both Iran and
the Europeans but didn’t provide details.

Kharrazi suggested it included a short-term Iranian suspension
of nuclear activities.

“Today, the talk is about continuing the suspension for a
short period to build confidence,” the minister said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said
the Europeans have not yet provided the Bush administration with a
full readout of the talks in Tehran. He said the Europeans agree
with the United States that Iran has to suspend fully and
immediately all nuclear weapons activities.

The United States believes that if Iran does not comply, it
should be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible
sanctions.

German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Antje Leendertse said in
Berlin that the “talks were difficult but useful, and over
the coming days all the participants will analyze the
results.”

to refer the Islamic republic to the Security Council unless it
gives up all uranium enrichment activities before a Nov. 25 meeting
of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

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