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World

Iran voices doubts about nuclear deal as UN inspectors arrive

The US, Russia and France are behind a deal brokered by the UN on enriching Iran's uranium, but Tehran is hesitating. UN inspectors have arrived in Iran to examine a previously unknown nuclear site.

Ali Larijani

Iranian lawmaker Ali Larijani warns of Western "cheating"

While western powers have signed off on a deal that would produce nuclear fuel for Tehran from its own partly enriched uranium, top Iranian lawmakers are criticizing the deal saying that Western powers are trying to take advantage of Iran.

"They insist on going in a direction that speaks of cheating. They are imposing some things on Iran," Larijani told ISNA, the student news agency.

His comments echoed those of officials who suggested that instead of accepting the UN draft proposal, Iran should just buy nuclear fuel from abroad.

However, the deal in its present form is essentially what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed nearly two months ago, saying the country needed 19.75-percent enriched uranium.

"We propose to buy it from anybody who is ready to sell it to us. We are ready to give 3.5-percent enriched uranium and then they can enrich it more and deliver to us 19.75-percent enriched uranium," said Ahmadinejad on September 30.

An October 1 meeting in Geneva worked out the details of the arrangement that would see Iran sending its low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment. Russia would then subcontract France to turn the enriched uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor in Tehran.

Inspectors arrive

Even as Iran debates whether or not to accept the deal, four inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, arrived in Tehran on Saturday night to inspect a controversial second uranium enrichment facility in Qom whose existence Iran revealed in September.

According to reports, the inspectors will spend three days in Iran inspecting the facility located 65 miles south of Tehran.

Mohamed ElBaradei

Iran misses a deadline from IAEA chief ElBaradei

The site was hidden by Iran for three years until last month, increasing Western suspicions about the country's nuclear goals.

When the facility was revealed, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei criticized the Iranians for what he said was a late disclosure of the site's existence.

Western diplomats and analysts have said the site's capacity appears too small to fuel a nuclear power plant but big enough to yield material for one or two nuclear warheads a year.

Missed deadline

In meetings last week, ElBaradei presented a proposal to all parties and imposed a deadline of October 23 to accept the deal.

The US, France and Russia all agreed in principle to the arrangement but Iran missed the deadline saying it would deliver its answer in a week.

Since then, Iranian media has run quotes from lawmakers who are questioning the wisdom of accepting the deal.

Iranian missile takes off

Western powers fear a nuclear Iran

One of them was from Alaeddin Borujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee.

"It is better to buy 20 percent enriched fuel and keep the 3.5 percent for our domestic power plants...than give to those countries," he said.

Borujerdi also warned Iranians to be cautious in their dealings with world powers.

Western powers are worried that Iran's low-enriched uranium, if not shipped out, may be further enhanced in Tehran to weapons-grade material.

av/AFP/Reuters
Editor: Kyle James

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