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Iran Vows To Freeze Nuclear Programs

The agreement, set out in two phases, began immediately yesterday when Iran informed ElBaradei it had agreed to a full suspension and invited inspectors to verify the commitment.

Western diplomats in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, said that a small team of nuclear inspectors would begin sealing and tagging Iran's nuclear facilities and equipment immediately and that the work would be completed by the time the agency's board meets on Thanksgiving day.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani, says talks will continue on a final resolution. (Reuters)

_____Iranian Pledge_____
Video Report: Iran said Monday that it was suspending uranium enrichment and related activities in hopes of building confidence in the world that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.
_____More Coverage_____
IAEA Assesses Iran's Nuclear Offer (Associated Press, Nov 15, 2004)
Desire for Nuclear Empowerment a Uniting Factor in Iran (The Washington Post, Nov 14, 2004)
Post Editorial: Facing Iran, With Europe (11/09/04)
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Hassan Rohani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, told reporters in Tehran the suspension would remain as long as talks continued on a resolution of Iran's nuclear case. Those negotiations could begin next month, and diplomats said they were discussing a kickoff ceremony to be attended by Iranian, British, German and French foreign ministers.

The four countries involved in the talks will then set up three working groups: one to tackle nuclear issues, another for nonnuclear cooperation between Iran and Europe, and a third for regional security issues. The groups will report every three months to a steering committee made up of senior participants.

Iran had wanted that phase of negotiation to last no more than six months, but Europe insisted that it be open-ended to avoid time-pressured negotiations. One European diplomat said Europe expected the negotiations to last two years or more.

As part of the understanding reached by the parties yesterday, negotiators will spend that time working out a package deal that gives Iran lucrative trade agreements with Europe once it agrees to put a permanent end to its nuclear programs.

The suspension arrangement, which was reached in two days of talks in Paris that ended Nov. 7, nearly collapsed last week after Iran pushed for two changes: an exemption on an early step in the uranium conversion process and promises that the IAEA would close its Iran file. European officials balked at both, and Iran agreed to accept the deal as it had been offered. But the disagreements over interpretations and expectations indicated that future negotiations would not be easy.

European diplomats said Bush's reelection helped the negotiations by limiting Iran's options. Had Democrat John F. Kerry won, Iran might have tried to play for time or probe what policy shifts a new administration was considering, they said.

Staff writer Robin Wright contributed to this report.

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