Bloomberg News

IAEA Disappointed as Iran Fails to Agree to Wider Atom Probe

June 08, 2012

The United Nations nuclear agency said it was disappointed that Iran failed to agree on a deal that would allow wider inspections of alleged nuclear facilities inside the Persian Gulf nation.

International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Inspector Herman Nackaerts met with Iran’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, for eight hours today in Vienna. It was the first meeting after the agency’s May 22 announcement that the sides decided to reach an accord.

“The agency came to the meeting in a positive spirit in the desire and intention of finalizing the paper,” Nackaerts said in a prepared statement, standing next to Soltanieh. “We presented a draft which addressed Iran’s earlier concerns.”

“However, there has been no progress,” Nackaerts added. “Iran raised issues we have already discussed and presented new ones. This is disappointing.”

The failure came two days after Soltanieh accused the IAEA of spying for Western intelligence agencies. Inspectors had sought to conclude an arrangement to visit facilities, including the Parchin military complex, that may have housed work on nuclear weapons. Iran says its atomic program is peaceful.

Both the IAEA “and Iran have to work very carefully because this is a special case on how to deal with these kinds of allegations,” Soltanieh said. “This is a very delicate matter and we have to work quietly and without politicization.”

Inspections

IAEA inspectors want to go to places inside Iran beyond what is permitted under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. While Iran has been subject to about 4,000 man-days of inspections inside its declared nuclear facilities since 2003, the Vienna-based agency has repeatedly said that it cannot ensure they’ve seen the full scope of the country’s atomic work.

While Nackaerts and Soltanieh appeared together for the IAEA statement, the agency’s inspectors walked out of the press briefing while the Iranian envoy stayed to answer questions. The sides couldn’t agree on a time or place to resume talks.

“The more time we spend now, the better for future implementation” of a deal, Soltanieh said. “We have to be very careful in crafting this text.”

Soltanieh said the issue of Parchin, which the IAEA reported in November may have been the site of experiments on a trigger for a nuclear weapon, had become an “obstacle” because it had become “politicized.”

Iran says IAEA inspectors should be sticking to their core duty of accounting for nuclear material and shouldn’t be asked to investigate alleged missile and military activities.

Diplomats from China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. meet their Iranian counterparts in Moscow on June 18-19. It will be the third round of talks in three months over Iran’s nuclear work, which the West says is a cover for nuclear weapons development and Iran says is peaceful.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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