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IAEA, Iran Working to  Finalize Nuclear Freeze Accord

The International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors has put off a resolution on Iran's nuclear program until Monday, to allow more time for European countries and Tehran to finalize a deal to freeze Iran's uranium enrichment program.

IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told reporters diplomats were continuing talks behind closed doors to complete an agreement on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

He appeared to play down remaining disagreements over Iran's request to exempt 20 centrifuges from a deal struck earlier this month to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can create fuel for power plants, or nuclear weapons.

"I think they will come to an agreement," he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, speaking in Tehran on Saturday, said the deal with the Europeans did not prohibit using centrifuges for research and development. He said the centrifuges would be for research purposes only, and would be under IAEA supervision. The European negotiators have been seeking a total freeze of Iran's nuclear program.

The IAEA says it has to await the outcome of further talks between the Europeans and Iran. Then, diplomats can move on a resolution on Iran, which the board is expected to consider on Monday.

The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, says he expects a resolution to be adopted.

"My understanding is that quite good progress has been made on the text of a resolution," he said. "So, I am hopeful that we should be able to have a resolution that will address all the issues of concern, and move us forward on Iran, both on the continuation of verification, and both with the regard to the monitoring of suspension. And, hopefully, that also will open the way for a dialogue between the European Union and Iran to address all issues that are of concern to both parties."

Any resolution is expected to keep the pressure on Iran, until outstanding issues are resolved on its nuclear program, which was kept secret from the world for almost two decades.

The United States believes Iran is working on a nuclear weapons program, something Tehran strongly denies, insisting its nuclear program is to produce electricity.

During the negotiations with Iran, diplomats at the U.N. nuclear agency have held out the possibility of referring the matter to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.