IAEA says no progress in nuclear probe talks with Iran

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had made no progress in talks with Iran on Friday to finalize a deal on resuming a long-stalled investigation into suspected nuclear weapons research by Tehran and it called the outcome “disappointing.”

Herman Nackaerts, global head of inspections for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said after Friday’s meeting at IAEA headquarters in Vienna that no date for further talks on the matter had been set.

The United States, European powers and Israel want to curb Iranian atomic activities they suspect are intended to produce nuclear bombs. Tehran says the aims of its nuclear program are purely civilian.

Six world powers were watching the IAEA-Iran meeting closely to judge whether the Iranians were ready to make concessions before a resumption of broader negotiations with them later this month in Moscow on the decade-old nuclear dispute.

Nackaerts said the U.N. agency had come to the meeting with a desire to seal the agreement and had presented a revised draft that addressed earlier stated concerns by Iran.

“However, there has been no progress,” he told reporters. “And indeed Iran raised issues that we have already discussed and other new ones. This is disappointing.”

He added: “A date for a follow-on meeting has yet to be fixed.”

Iran’s IAEA ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said work on a so-called “structured approach” document, setting the overall terms for the IAEA investigation, would continue and there would be more talks.

The IAEA had been pressing Iran for an agreement that would give its inspectors immediate access to the Parchin military complex, where it believes explosives tests relevant for the development of nuclear bombs have taken place.

Iran has said it would work with the U.N. agency to prove that such allegations are “forged and fabricated”.

Both Iran and the IAEA said earlier that significant headway had been made on the “structured approach” document.

But differences remained on how the IAEA should conduct its inquiry and the United States said this week it doubted whether Iran would give the U.N. agency the kind of access to sites, documents and officials it needs.

The talks conducted by world powers are aimed at defusing tension over Iran’s nuclear works that has led to increasingly tough Western sanctions on Iran, including an EU oil embargo from July 1, and stoked fears of another Middle East war.

Reporting by Fredrik Dahl, editing by Mark Heinrich