Iran Nuclear Talks End Without Progress, U.N. Inspectors Say

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it had failed to secure an agreement with Iran during two days of talks over disputed atomic activities and that the Islamic Republic had rejected a request to visit a key military site.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Photo: IAEA Imagebank/Flickr

“Intensive efforts were made to reach agreement on a document facilitating the clarification of unresolved issues in connection with Iran’s nuclear programme,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement. “Unfortunately, agreement was not reached on this document.”

According to The Telegraph, the team requested access both during this visit and during a first trip in late January to the Parchin military site, near Tehran, where it believes explosives testing was carried out, but Iran “did not grant permission,” it said.

“It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin during the first or second meetings,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in the statement.

In the second such trip in less than a month, a senior team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had travelled to Tehran to press Iranian officials to start addressing mounting concerns that the Islamic Republic may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons, reports The Huff Post.

The visit was aimed, the IAEA had said, at clarifying all “outstanding substantive issues” surrounding Tehran’s nuclear programme, in particular what it called “possible military dimensions.”

The trip was also seen as an important precursor to a possible resumption of talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers, the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, which broke down in Turkey 13 months ago.

Earlier, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told the country’s ISNA news agency that Tehran expected to hold more talks with the U.N. agency, whose task it is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the world.

But Amano’s spokeswoman, Gill Tudor, made clear no further meetings were planned: “At this point in time there is no agreement on further discussions,” she said.

Talk of war over Iran’s nuclear program has reached a strident pitch in recent weeks, as Israel has escalated threats of a possible strike, the oratory of American politicians has become more bellicose and Iran has responded for the most part defiantly.

With Israel and Iran exchanging accusations of assassination plots, some analysts see a danger of blundering into a war that would inevitably involve the United States, says The New York Times.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a CNN interview on Sunday that the United States had advised Israel that a strike now would be “destabilizing,” adding that Iran had not yet decided whether to build a weapon.

And American officials are weighing an Iranian offer to renew nuclear talks as a stream of threats from Tehran continued on Tuesday and international nuclear inspectors reported their mission to Iran had failed.

Iran rejects accusations that its nuclear programme is a covert bid to develop a nuclear weapons capability, saying it is seeking to produce only electricity.

But its refusal to curb sensitive atomic activities which can have both civilian and military purposes, and its track record of years of nuclear secrecy has drawn increasingly tough U.N. and separate U.S. and European punitive measures.

Since the report’s publication, the United States and the European Union have ramped up sanctions on Iran’s oil sector, and speculation has grown that Iran’s arch rival Israel might launch air strikes, possibly even this year.

Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, has announced the halt of oil sales to Britain and France – sending the price of oil soaring – and has defiantly trumpeted advances in its nuclear programme.

The UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran because of Tehran’s repeated failure to declare nuclear sites and materials to the IAEA, calling on it to suspend uranium enrichment.

The IAEA delegation’s findings are likely to be included in a report by Amano expected to be circulated to diplomats in Vienna later this week, which will be presented to the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors on March 5.

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