- By Region
The International Atomic Energy Agency declared on Friday that its negotiations with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme had stalled badly, a development that the UN agency described as “disappointing.”
Amid growing international concern that Iran is once again refusing to make any compromises with the international community over its nuclear programme, the IAEA stated that there had been “no progress” in talks with Iran that are aimed at clarifying whether it has sought a nuclear bomb in the past.
Over the last two weeks, Iran and the IAEA had been indicating that significant progress was being made on a framework agreement to resume a long-stalled IAEA investigation into Tehran’s atomic activities.
The IAEA wants to clear up long-standing suspicions that Iran has undertaken activities linked to building a nuclear weapon in the past. In particular, the IAEA has for some time been pressing for a deal that would enable its inspectors to visit a military complex where they suspect atom bomb research has taken place.
But the IAEA indicated late on Friday that a day of talks with a senior Iranian official in Vienna to conclude an agreement had ended in deadlock.
“The agency team came to the meeting in a constructive spirit with the desire and intention of finalising the paper,” said Herman Nackaerts, the IAEA deputy director general, after the meeting. “We presented a revised draft which addressed Iran’s earlier stated concerns. However, there has been no progress and, indeed, Iran raised issues that we have already discussed and added new ones.”
Mr Nackaerts added: “ This is disappointing. A date for a follow-on meeting has yet to be fixed.”
The apparent collapse of talks between Iran and the IAEA will add to gloom that there will now be no progress on the more wide-ranging international negotiations over the future of the Iranian nuclear programme. Iran is due to meet senior diplomats from the EU and six world powers in Moscow on June 18 for another round of talks aimed at trying to scale back the future development of Iran’s nuclear programme.
However, senior EU officials expressed concern on Thursday that Iran’s dialogue with the six world powers also appears close to collapse. This is because Tehran has this week appeared to be preparing for the failure of the Moscow talks by accusing the EU of “dithering” in its preparation for the meeting in the Russian capital.
The failure of the talks with the IAEA in Vienna will now add to western perceptions that Iran is planning to make no compromises in Moscow, just three weeks after an inconclusive meeting with the six powers in Baghdad.
“What we’ve seen in Vienna cannot be encouraging for Moscow at all,” said a western diplomat on Friday night.
Failure of the diplomatic talks in Moscow would inevitably raise concerns that Israel could press ahead with a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities this year. The talks are widely seen as the last chance for a negotiated solution over the Iranian nuclear programme before it reaches what Israel regards as a point of no return.
The failure of the Vienna talks is a surprise because Yukiya Amano, the IAEA’s director-general, travelled to Iran two weeks ago and said he was close to securing an agreement that would see Iran answering concerns about its past activities.
But differences remained on how the IAEA should conduct its probe, and the US said this week that it doubted whether Iran would give the UN agency the kind of access to sites, documents and officials it needed.