WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – VIENNA : The UN nuclear watchdog and Iran failed at talks Friday to unblock a probe into suspected atom bomb research by the Islamic state, a setback dimming any chances for success in higher-level negotiations between Tehran and major powers later this month.
Using unusually pointed language, the International Atomic Energy Agency said no progress had been made in the meeting aimed at sealing a deal on resuming the IAEA’s long-stalled investigation. It described the outcome as “disappointing.”
A few weeks ago, UN nuclear chief Yukiya Amano said he had won assurances from senior Iranian officials in Tehran an agreement would be struck soon.
Herman Nackaerts, the IAEA’s global head of inspections, said after the eight-hour meeting at its headquarters in Vienna no date for further discussions had been set.
The nuclear agency had been pressing Tehran for an accord that would give its inspectors immediate access to the Parchin military complex, where it believes explosives tests relevant for the development of nuclear arms have taken place and suspects Iran is cleaning the site of any incriminating evidence.
The United States, European powers and Israel want to curb Iranian atomic activities they fear are intended to produce nuclear bombs. The Islamic Republic says its nuclear program is meant purely to produce energy for civilian uses.
Six world powers were scrutinizing the IAEA-Iran meeting to judge whether the Iranians were ready to make concessions before a resumption of wider-ranging negotiations with them in Moscow June 18-19 on the decade-old nuclear dispute.
The lack of result may heighten Western suspicions Iran is seeking to drag out the two sets of talks to buy time for continuing uranium enrichment, without backing down in the face of international demands it suspend its sensitive work.
“It should by now be clear to everyone that Iran is not negotiating in good faith,” a senior Western diplomat said.
A European envoy also accredited to the IAEA said, “This is a dismal outcome … Iran is simply wasting time with its evasions and refusal to engage.”
Mark Fitzpatrick, a former senior U.S. State Department official, now a director at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in London, said, “This situation is reminiscent of the Peanuts cartoon of Charlie Brown repeatedly believing Lucy this time will hold the football for him to kick, with her always snatching it away at the last minute, leaving him to fall flat.”
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s IAEA ambassador, said after Friday’s talks work on a “structured approach” document, setting the overall terms for the IAEA investigation, would continue and there would be more meetings.
“This is a very complicated issue,” he said.
Asked about the Iranian envoy he replied, “That is in fact one of the problems. The more you politicize an issue which was purely technical it creates an obstacle and damages the environment.”