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US, European Officials Await Decision on Iranian Nuclear Program


The International Atomic Energy Agency could act to resolve a dispute over Iran's nuclear program Monday. European negotiators and Tehran have been working behind closed doors to strike a deal.

Over the past few days, the status of an agreement struck earlier this month to halt Iran's uranium enrichment program appeared uncertain.

The deal's success was thrown in doubt after Iran demanded that 20 centrifuges it said were for research be excluded from IAEA supervision. In the latest development, though, Western diplomats at the IAEA in Vienna say Iran Sunday sent a letter agreeing to halt all enrichment efforts.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, expressed some skepticism. "This would be the third time that the Iranians have finally decided to let things proceed," he said.

Senator Lugar said it is important for Iran to put any and all of its promises in writing. But he added that he believes this will not be the last word on any deal. "The Europeans are also claiming they want to see in writing pledges and plans for all this. They haven't seen that yet. And [the Europeans] claim they have to have that before they'll make a deal. But my guess is this is probably not the last hitch in the situation. It's the third [obstacle], but probably not the final," he said.

Britain, France and Germany are the three countries that have been negotiating to halt Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking on CNN's Late Edition, France's ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, said the three countries would support taking the issue to the United Nations Security Council, for a vote on possible sanctions, if necessary. But he added his hope that a deal could still be reached. "We are cautiously optimistic about the possibility to obtain a suspension, verifiable and complete, of enrichment procedures. And it will give time to try to reach a more global and permanent deal. And for that, probably, we'll need to have America on board," he said.

Ambassador Levitte said he believes the three European countries would have more leverage with Iran if the U.S. administration actively joined them in negotiation efforts.

The United States accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons. Tehran strongly denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is strictly for producing electricity.