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U.N. Watchdog Expects To Sign Deal With Iran

The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said his agency expects to sign a deal with Iran to allow an investigation into the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Tuesday’s announcement in Tehran by Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, came a day after talks between Amano and Iranian officials, including Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, according to reports.

“(A) decision was made to conclude and sign the agreement … I can say it will be signed quite soon,” Amano told reporters in Vienna, according to Reuters, adding that “there remain some differences.”

On Wednesday, representatives of the six world powers are scheduled to meet with Jalili in Baghdad, Iraq, to discuss uranium enrichment in Iran.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the West suspects Iran is working toward building a nuclear weapon. The West has concerns that Israel may launch a preemptive strike to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday was skeptical of the apparent breakthrough and called on Iran to stop enriching uranium both to 3.5 percent and 20 percent.

“It appears that the Iranians are trying to reach a ‘technical agreement’ which will create the impression of progress in the talks in order to remove some of the pressure before the [P5+1] talks tomorrow in Baghdad, as well as to put off the intensification of sanctions,” Barak said. “Israel believes that Iran should be set a clear bar, so that there is no ‘window or crack’ which the Iranians can [creep] through to advance their military nuclear program.”

Barak said that if Iran is allowed to retain even a symbolic amount of uranium, it must be under “tight supervision.”

“The requirements of the world powers must be clear and unequivocal,” he said.

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