- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

NEW YORK — The Bush administration reached a tentative deal yesterday with three European nations at the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency on the next step in confronting Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

A senior U.S. official in Washington said the agreement with France, Britain and Germany would demand that Iran suspend enrichment of uranium and permit international inspectors access to all facilities.

The agreement followed new charges by U.S. officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, that satellite photographs of an industrial site southeast of Tehran demonstrated Iran’s intention to develop atomic weapons.

“As it stands now, we have a tentative agreement between the U.S. and the ‘EU-three’ in Vienna and it is being reviewed in capitals,” said a senior administration official.

The official, interviewed by telephone, said negotiators at the IAEA hoped to wrap up the agreement today.

The deal would give Iran until November to comply with IAEA demands or risk referral to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions, the official said.

Iran dismissed the latest charge over its military site at Parchin, about 20 miles outside Tehran.

“This is a new lie, like the last 13 lies based on news reports that have been proved to be lies,” said Hossein Mousavian, Iran’s chief delegate to the IAEA board meeting.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said in Washington yesterday that the Bush administration was determined to push for U.N. sanctions against Iran for its secret nuclear programs, even though the Iranians have insisted on their right to continue their nuclear program.

“I think it makes it a lot more difficult for a nation moving in this direction to have everything they do under enormous international scrutiny,” Mr. Powell said in an interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

“I think it does have a limiting effect,” Mr. Powell said.

France, Britain and Germany are in a sixth round of talks with IAEA board hard-liners — the United States, Australia and Canada — to find a compromise on the wording of a text on Iran. The Europeans favor more negotiations with Tehran.

David R. Sands in Washington contributed to this story, which is based in part on wire-service reports.

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