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The Nuclear watchdog


VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear
watchdog said it made no progress in
talks with Iran on Friday to seal a deal
on resuming a long-stalled
investigation into suspected atom
bomb research by the Islamic state and it called the outcome
"disappointing". The meeting's failure - a few weeks
after the U.N. nuclear chief said he had
won assurances by Tehran that an
agreement would be struck - may dim
prospects for success in broader
negotiations between Iran and major powers later this month. Herman Nackaerts, global head of
inspections for the International
Atomic Energy Agency, said after the
eight-hour meeting at IAEA
headquarters in Vienna that no date
for further talks on the matter had been set. The IAEA had been pressing Iran for
an accord that would give its
inspectors immediate access to the
Parchin military complex, where it
believes explosives tests relevant for
the development of nuclear arms have taken place and suspects Iran
may now be cleaning the site of any
incriminating evidence. The United States, European powers
and Israel want to curb Iranian
nuclear activities they suspect are
intended to produce nuclear bombs.
The Islamic Republic says its nuclear
programme is meant purely to produce energy for civilian uses. Six world powers were scrutinizing
the IAEA-Iran meeting to judge
whether the Iranians were ready to
make concessions before a
resumption of wider-ranging
discussions with them in Moscow on June 18-19 on the decade-old
nuclear dispute. The outcome may heighten Western
suspicions that Iran is seeking to drag
out the two sets of talks to buy time
for its uranium enrichment
programme, without backing down
in the face of Western demands that it suspend its sensitive work. "It should by now be clear to
everyone that Iran is not negotiating
in good faith," a senior Western
diplomat said. Nackaerts said the IAEA had come to
the meeting with a desire to finalize
the deal 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." Less than three weeks ago, IAEA
Director General Yukiya Amano
returned from a one-day visit to
Tehran saying the two sides had
decided to strike a deal and that he
expected it to be signed soon. IRAN WANTS MORE TALKS Iran's IAEA ambassador, Ali Asghar
Soltanieh, said after Friday's talks that
work on a so-called "structured
approach" document, setting the
overall terms for the IAEA
investigation, would continue and there would be more meetings. "This is a very complicated issue,"
Soltanieh said. "We have decided to
continue our work and we are going
to decide on the venue and date
soon ... and we hope that we will be
able to conclude this structured approach." Asked about Parchin, Soltanieh said:
"That is in fact one of the problems.
The more you politicize an issue
which was purely technical it creates
an obstacle and damages the
environment." Both Iran - which insists it will work
with the U.N. agency to prove
allegations of a nuclear weapons
agenda are "forged and fabricated" -
and the IAEA said earlier that
significant headway had been made on the procedural document. But differences persisted over how
the IAEA should conduct its inquiry.
The United States said this week it
doubted whether Iran would give the
IAEA the kind of access to sites,
documents and officials it needs to get to the bottom of its suspicions. "Opening discussions with Iran is
easy, closing a deal is incredibly
difficult," said Karim Sadjadpour of the
Carnegie Endowment think-tank.
"The graveyard of international
diplomacy is littered with failed Iran deals." The talks pursued 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. Full transparency and cooperation
with the IAEA is one of the elements
the world powers - the United States,
Russia, France, Britain, China and
Germany - are seeking from Iran. But they also want Iran to stop its
higher-grade uranium enrichment,
which Tehran says it needs for a
research reactor but which also takes
it closer to potential bomb material. For its part, Iran wants sanctions relief
and international recognition of what
it says is its right to refine uranium. In order for sanctions to be
eventually lifted, "Iran must reach a
deal with the IAEA on inspections to
verify that any weapons-related
experiments have been
discontinued," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control
Association, a Washington-based
research and advocacy group. It must
also shelve higher-grade uranium
enrichment, he said. But Cliff Kupchan, a Middle East
analyst at consultancy Eurasia Group,
said he did not expect the lack of
progress in Vienna to have major
implications for the Moscow talks. "The Iranians always bob and weave
before meeting with the (six world
powers), trying to get leverage," he
said. (Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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