Friday, 24 August 2012 21:50
VIENNA: The UN atomic watchdog said that "intensive" talks Friday with Iran had failed, with no plans for a follow-up meeting to persuade Tehran to address evidence of suspected nuclear weapons research.
"As in our last meeting in June we intended to finalise a structured approach paper that has been under discussion for many months," International Atomic Energy Agency chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said after the meeting in Vienna.
"Discussions today were intensive, but important differences remain between Iran and the agency that prevented agreement on this structured approach paper.... At the moment we have no plans for another meeting," he told reporters.
But Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was more positive, saying that some progress had been made in the meeting and that more talks would take place.
"Issues related to the national security of a (IAEA) member state is something very delicate," Soltanieh told reporters.
"I have to say that we are moving forward and this meeting in fact was an indication that we can work with the agency closely and we are going to continue this process.
"I wish that in the next round of the meetings and in the continuation of the process you will see that we are on the right track."
The IAEA wants Iran to explain indications that until at least 2003, and possibly since, Tehran carried out "activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device".
It wants access to specific documents and to scientists involved in Iran's programme, as well as to sites, including the Parchin military base near Tehran, which it visited twice in 2005 but wants to look at again.
So far Iran has flatly rejected the claims, set out in a major IAEA report last November, saying they are based on forged documentation, and denied seeking -- or ever having sought -- to develop atomic weapons.
Iran has said it will allow monitors access only as part of a wider arrangement governing relations between Iran and the watchdog, which experts and diplomats say would limit the IAEA's inspection rights to an unacceptable degree.
Western countries have accused Iran of bulldozing parts of Parchin to remove evidence, and the IAEA said in May that activities spotted there by satellite "could hamper the agency's ability to undertake effective verification."
The meeting comes as Iran faces unprecedented sanctions pressure, and amid heightened speculation that Israel may bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012