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Iran to Respond to UN Nuclear Deal by Thursday


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Iran's official Arabic-language al Alam TV is reporting Iran's parliament will discuss the United Nations draft nuclear deal proposed by the United States, France and Russia, giving a formal reply to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday.

The Iranian Student News Agency reported earlier the head of the parliament's national security committee, Alaedin Borujurdi, would put the U.N. draft nuclear deal between Tehran and the West to a vote of his committee after discussing its pros and cons.

The IAEA draft deal calls for Iran to ship its stockpile of low-grade enriched uranium to Russia to be transformed into more highly enriched uranium for use in Tehran's medical research reactor.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, who was once Tehran's top nuclear negotiator, decried the draft deal Saturday, accusing the West of "trying to cheat and impose [its] will on us," as he put it.Several Iranian politicians close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have demanded Tehran ship only part of its enriched-uranium stockpile abroad until some of the batch shipped to Russia was returned in more highly enriched form.

Meir Javedanfar of the MEEPAS Center in Tel Aviv says the Iranian critics of the nuclear deal with the West are suspicious of the terms of the agreement.

"The biggest question that the Iranian decision-makers-those that are against this move-are asking is this, 'How do we know that the Americans and the West are basically going to let the Russians live up to their promise of giving the uranium back? How do we know that they are not going to keep it all?" He asked.

The United States and allies France and Russia have supported the IAEA draft deal with Iran as a means to alleviate concerns that Tehran is using its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons covertly.

The Iranian government strenuously insists its nuclear program is peaceful and its supplies of enriched uranium will be used to produce electricity for civilian nuclear power plants it is building.

Meir Javedanfar says many, including himself, suspect Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei harbors the aspiration to build atomic weapons.

"There is another reason [why Iran is against the deal], which of course they do not say, and it is understood by a number of people, including myself, that Iran-Ayatollah Khamenei-wants the bomb," said Javedanfar of Tel Aviv's MEEPAS Center. "I mean, he hands over 80 percent of his low-enriched uranium: that means for the next 13 months he will not be able to go down that path, meaning that he will lose a lot of leverage with the West," he added.

The Iranian press reported earlier this week that Tehran was ready to accept the general framework of the U.N. draft deal, but was insisting on some "important changes."