U.N. agency and Iran fail again to reach nuclear deal

VIENNA, Jan 18 – U.N. inspectors failed again in talks in Tehran this week to secure a breakthrough deal on Iran’s atomic activity in a setback for diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear dispute with the Islamic state peacefully.

Herman Nackaerts, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Friday his team had not been granted the access they have long sought to a
military site. A further meeting was scheduled for Feb. 12.

In a separate note sent to IAEA member states about the negotiations over Wednesday and Thursday, seen by Reuters, the U.N. agency said “important differences” between the two sides remained and it had therefore not been possible to reach an agreement.

The absence of an accord meant to allay international concerns over Tehran’s atomic ambitions will disappoint world powers seeking a broader diplomatic settlement with Iran that would avert the threat of a new Middle East war.

The IAEA’s efforts to unblock its long-stalled investigation into suspected atom bomb research in Iran are separate, but closely linked, to negotiations between Tehran and the powers that may resume later this month after a seven-month hiatus.

The IAEA, whose mission is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, has been trying for a year to negotiate a so-called structured approach with Iran giving the inspectors access to
sites, officials and documents for their long-stalled inquiry.

At the centre of its concerns, it wants to inspect the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran where it believes explosives tests relevant for nuclear weapons development may
have taken place, something Iran denies. “We had two days of intensive discussions,” Nackaerts told reporters at Vienna airport.

“We could not finalise the structured approach to resolve the outstanding issues regarding possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme,” he said. Nackaerts said as he left Vienna for Tehran on Tuesday that he hoped for immediate access to Parchin, where Western diplomats suspect Iran has carried out work to cleanse the site of any traces of past, illicit nuclear-related activity.