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Iran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment

Iran's Boushehr nuclear power plant
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Iran agrees with a request from the EU's 'big three' to stop nuclear enrichment.

China will oppose any effort to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran has agreed to fully suspend its uranium enrichment program, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hasan Rohani announced Sunday, a move that could improve Iran's relations with the West.

Although Iran has said its uranium enrichment activities are intended to produce fuel for nuclear power plants, the United States has said the program is aimed at building nuclear weapons.

The agreement followed 40 minutes of talks between Iranian government representatives and ambassadors of the European Union's so-called Big Three nations, France, Britain and Germany, Rohani said.

Earlier, a Western diplomat told CNN that Iran made the agreement in exchange for a promise not to refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

The U.N. watchdog agency -- the International Atomic Energy Agency -- was informed of Iran's decision as soon as possible, Rohani said. He said Iran would soon announce the timing of the suspension.

A European diplomat -- who would offer no details -- said the Europeans got, more-or-less, what they had been seeking from Iran.

A member of the Iranian delegation said the suspension would continue as long as talks between Iran and the European powers continue.

It could take several days before IAEA inspectors are able to travel to Iran and perhaps several more days for them to shut everything down, the Western diplomat said. But he predicted inspectors will be able to determine the status of Iran's program before the scheduled meeting of the IAEA's board of governors November 25 and 26.

A White House spokeswoman said Sunday that officials are "aware of the reports, and we look forward to a briefing by our European friends."

The U.S. State Department had no immediate reaction to Sunday's report, but spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters last week, "The question of where they stand -- where Iran stands -- when we get to the board meeting is the important one."

"Will Iran have complied at that point with the requirements of the IAEA board?," Boucher asked. "Will the IAEA be in a position to verify that and to say that they are engaging in the verification of that kind of promise and activity?"

He added, "Ultimately, it's what Iran does that matters, not just what they have agreed to."

The news followed an announcement on November 7 of a provisional agreement on Iran's uranium enrichment program through a series of talks between Iran and the Big Three.

After those talks, Iranian delegation spokesman Hussein Mousavian said the agreement could usher in an important change in Iran's relations with Europe and much of the international community.

The Big Three held three rounds of talks with Iran in an effort to persuade Tehran to suspend its nuclear enrichment activities in return for improved trade and political relations.

In the past, Iran has said any suspension of its program would be short-lived and only with the aim of building confidence between Tehran and the international community.

CNN's Kasra Naji contributed to this report.

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