- U.S. casts doubt on credibility of Iran election
- Demonstrations in two Iranian universities
- Shahrokh Zamani and Khaled Hardani are on hunger strike
- Another civilian is sentenced to death in Khomeini Shahr
- Five Years of Imprisonment for Baha'i Leaders
- Kurdish Death Row Prisoner Transferred, His Lawyer Arrested
- US Congress Moves Toward Full Trade Embargo on Iran
- Israel says UN pressure having no effect on curbing Iran nukes
- U.S. Congress moves to tighten sanctions on Iran
- Iran pushes ahead with new nuclear plant that worries West
- Iran acts to expand sensitive nuclear capacity: diplomats
- CIA head visits Israel to discuss Syria, Iran's nuclear program
- Women skirt Iranian music ban with fancy dress
- Religious leaders ban 30 women from running for Iran's presidency
- Iranian cleric: Women can't be president in Iran
- Iranians marrying foreigners without state consent face prosecution
- More women smuggling drugs out of Iran
- Canada’s High Court could try Iran for Zahra Kazemi murder
- Iranian troops are fighting in Syria, says US
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Bahrain claims Iranian drone found
- UK: Iran, Hezbollah increasing support for Assad
- When it comes to Syria and Hezbollah, Israel is walking a tightrope
- IRGC: World now eying Iranian regime's resistance
Friday 08 June 2012
NYTimes.com — After a brief spurt of optimism, impetus toward resolving the nuclear dispute with Iran slowed further on Friday as senior inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog said they made “no progress” toward gaining access to restricted sites they suspect of being used to test potential triggers for nuclear warheads.
The assessment came after a day of talks at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna led by Herman Nackaerts, the Agency’s chief nuclear inspector, and Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian ambassador to the body.
Coming after inconclusive, broader negotiations between Iran and world powers on its disputed nuclear program in Baghdad last month, the outcome of Friday’s encounter suggested that momentum had been further diminished, even as Tehran faces an array of more onerous economic sanctions on its oil and banking sectors next month.
The outcome seemed likely to deepen suspicions among Iran’s critics that Tehran is using its contacts with outsiders to buy time as it continues nuclear enrichment efforts and possibly conceals evidence sought by international inspectors.
The I.A.E.A. inspectors had been hoping to secure Iran’s agreement to what they call a “structured approach” permitting scrutiny of sites which they suspect of having military uses, I.A.E.A. officials said. After a visit to Tehran In May, the I.A.E.A. director general, Yukiya Amano, said he believed Iran was close to agreeing the terms of an inspection of contentious sites, including one at Parchin, 20 miles south of Tehran.
In a statement on Friday, Mr. Nackaerts said his negotiators arrived at the meeting with Mr. Soltanieh in a “constructive spirit,” hoping to finalize an agreement.
“We presented a revised draft which addressed Iran’s earlier stated concerns.,” Mr. Nackaerts said. “However, there has been no progress and, indeed, Iran raised issues that we have already discussed and added new ones. This is disappointing.”
Mr. Soltanieh, the Iranian representative, sought to portray the discussions in a more positive way, saying that after eight hours of negotiations, the talks would continue at an unspecified date “in order to finalize the particularities of the talks and reach a conclusion,” Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. It quoted him as saying that “because the talks concern a very sensitive and complicated subject, all dimensions of the talks must be reviewed carefully by our team.”
But Mr. Nackaerts said no date had been fixed for the next meeting. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Western leaders say they suspect it is designed to achieve the capability to build nuclear weapons.
The talks in Vienna had been closely watched by the six world powers negotiating on wider issues with Iran to try to halt its enrichment of uranium, which Iran has said it will never do. Those talks are set to resume in Moscow on June 18 — a little more than a week — following last month’s inconclusive round in Baghdad. But the seeming stalemate at the Vienna talks cast a pall over the prospects for the discussions in Moscow, diplomats said.
The I.A.E.A. talks unfolded after a series of signals from Iran that a breakthrough was unlikely.
“I’m not optimistic," said Robert Wood, the acting United States envoy to the I.A.E.A. as the talks were held on Friday. “I certainly hope that an agreement will be reached but I’m not certain Iran is ready.”
In Beijing, President Hu Jintao of China urged the visiting Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Friday to be “flexible and pragmatic” at the talks scheduled for Moscow and to cooperate with the I.A.E.A., news reports said. China is one of the six powers along with the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany conducting talks with Iran.
In the run-up to Friday’s talks, Western officials had detected a series of signs that seemed to show Iranian attitudes hardening.
On Monday, Mr. Amano had expressed concern about satellite images taken last month that showed the Iranians had demolished buildings at the Parchin site that inspectors have been pressing to visit, despite repeated Iranian refusals to permit access.
The I.A.E.A. said in a report in November that it believes the Iranians may have carried out testing of explosives at Parchin that could be used in triggering mechanisms for nuclear warheads.
Iran has denied that accusation and has described reported efforts to cleanse the Parchin site as absurd propaganda by its Western adversaries and Israel.
Iran has also suggested that before allowing any inspection at Parchin, it wants to see the documents used by the atomic agency as the basis for its suspicions.
Then, on Wednesday, Iran raised the possibility of delaying or canceling the resumption of nuclear talks with the big powers because of what it called dithering by the other side in holding preliminary meetings aimed at ensuring some success.
The warning came President Ahmadinejad and the office of Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief negotiator in the talks, even as Mr. Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the I.A.E.A., cast further doubt over Tehran’s intentions by accusing United Nations weapons inspectors of espionage.
“The inspectors, which are supposed to verify fissionable nuclear materials and related nuclear facilities declared by member states according to the Safeguards Agreements, are forced by a couple of states to be involved in intelligence activities,” he said in remarks quoted by Iranian news agencies.
Artin Afkhami contributed reporting from New York.