The UN atomic watchdog said that “intensive” talks Friday aimed at persuading Iran to address evidence that the agency has collected of suspected nuclear weapons research had failed.
“As in our last meeting in June we intended to finalize a structured approach paper that has been under discussion for many months,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said after the meeting in Vienna.
“Discussions today were intensive, but important differences remain between Iran and the agency that prevented agreement on this structured approach paper… At the moment we have no plans for another meeting,” he told reporters.
Iran’s ambassador to the Vienna-based IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said that “undoubtedly some progress” was made but that differences remained.
“Because it is a very complex issue… issues related to national security of a member state are something very delicate,” the veteran Iranian diplomat said.
Soltanieh had said before the talks began: “Both sides are trying to bridge the gap.
The IAEA also wants Iran to explain indications that until at least 2003, and possibly since, Tehran carried out “activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
It wants access to specific documents and to scientists involved in Iran’s program, as well as to sites, including the Parchin military base near Tehran, which it visited twice in 2005 but wants b to look at again.
So far Iran has flatly rejected the claims, set out in a major IAEA report last November, saying they are based on forged documentation, and denied seeking – or ever having sought – to develop atomic weapons.
Iran has said it will allow monitors access only as part of a wider arrangement governing relations between Iran and the watchdog, which experts and diplomats say would limit to an unacceptable degree the IAEA’s inspection rights.
Western countries have accused Iran of bulldozing parts of Parchin to remove evidence, and the IAEA said in May that activities spotted there by satellite “could hamper the agency’s ability to undertake effective verification.”
The meeting comes as Iran faces unprecedented sanctions pressure and amid heightened speculation that Israel may bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Also on Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the reports suggesting that Iran has installed new centrifuges in its Fordo facility are proof that it is pursuing nuclear weapons and has, in fact, accelerated its nuclear work.
Iran’s actions, he added, are “In utter disregard of international demands.”