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Friday 08 June 2012
REUTERS - The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it made no progress in talks with Iran on Friday to seal a deal on resuming a long-stalled investigation into suspected nuclear weapons research by Tehran and it called the outcome "disappointing".
Herman Nackaerts, global head of inspections for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said after the eight-hour meeting at IAEA headquarters in Vienna that no date for further talks on the matter had been set.
The United States, European powers and Israel want to curb Iranian nuclear activities they suspect are intended to produce nuclear bombs. The Islamic Republic says its nuclear program is meant purely to produce energy for civilian purposes.
Six world powers were scrutinizing the IAEA-Iran meeting to judge whether the Iranians were ready to make concessions before a resumption of broader negotiations with them later this month in Moscow on the decade-old nuclear dispute.
The outcome may heighten Western suspicions that Iran is seeking to drag out the two sets of talks in a bid to buy time for its uranium enrichment program, without backing down in the face of Western demands that it suspend its sensitive work.
The IAEA had been pressing Iran for an agreement that would give its inspectors immediate access to the Parchin military complex, where it believes explosives tests relevant for the development of nuclear bombs have taken place and suspects Iran may now be cleaning the site of any incriminating evidence.
Iran has said it would work with the U.N. agency to prove that such allegations are "forged and fabricated".
Nackaerts said the IAEA had come to the meeting with a desire to finalize the agreement and had presented a revised draft that addressed earlier stated concerns by Iran.
"However, there has been no progress," he told reporters. "And indeed Iran raised issues that we have already discussed and other new ones. This is disappointing." He added: "A date for a follow-on meeting has yet to be fixed."
IRAN WANTS MORE TALKS
Iran's IAEA ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said work on a so-called "structured approach" document, setting the overall terms for the IAEA investigation, would continue and there would be more talks.
"This is a very complicated issue," Soltanieh said. "We have decided to continue our work and we are going to decide on the venue and date soon ... and we hope that we will be able to conclude this structured approach."
Asked about Parchin, Soltanieh said: "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."
Both Iran and the IAEA said earlier that significant headway had been made on the procedural document.
But differences persisted over how the IAEA should conduct its inquiry. The United States said this week it doubted whether Iran would give the IAEA the kind of access to sites, documents and officials it needs to get to the bottom of its suspicions.
The talks pursued by world powers are aimed at defusing tension over Iran's nuclear works that has led to increasingly tough Western sanctions on Iran, including an EU oil embargo from July 1, and stoked fears of another Middle East war.
Full transparency and cooperation with the IAEA is one of the elements the world powers - the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany - are seeking from Iran.
But they also want Iran to halt its higher-grade uranium enrichment, which Tehran says it needs for a research reactor but which also takes it closer to potential bomb material.
For its part, Iran wants sanctions relief and international recognition of what it says is its right to refine uranium.