UN Inspectors End Iran Talks With ‘Important Differences’

Iran’s IAEA Envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh
Iran’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh , will head his country’s negotiating team, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on its website. Photographer: Dieter Nagl/AFP/GettyImages

United Nations nuclear inspectors ended eight hours of negotiations with Iran without reaching an agreement to access information and sites allegedly linked to the Persian Gulf nation’s atomic work.

“Important differences remain,” International Atomic Energy Agency inspector Herman Nackaerts told journalists after today’s meeting at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna. While the sides will continue the process, there are no immediate plans to meet again, he said.

The meeting was the first face-to-face discussion since talks over a so-called structured approach to the atomic probe broke down on June 8. Inspectors want access to sites beyond what is mandated by the IAEA’s agreements with Iran. While the country’s declared nuclear facilities have been subject to 4,000 man-days of inspections since 2003, the IAEA has said it can’t ensure inspectors have seen the full scope of its atomic work.

Iran’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, described today’s discussions as “intensive” and told the press briefing that talks over a framework will continue.

The IAEA is preparing to issue its quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear work, possibly as early as next week. The Islamic Republic has steadily increased its supply of enriched uranium, the key ingredient for atomic power and weapons, since beginning the industrial process in 2006.

New Centrifuges

Iran has installed hundreds of new centrifuges at its mountainside Fordo facility in recent months and may be accelerating production of nuclear fuel, the New York Times reported, citing unidentified diplomats. The IAEA said in June that Iran had already installed pipes and casings for hundreds of additional machines beyond the 500 in operation. The Fordo complex is built to house 3,000 centrifuges, the IAEA said.

While Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that the latest reports on the country’s activities are further proof it’s intending to create atomic weapons.

“Just yesterday we received additional evidence that Iran is making accelerated progress toward achieving nuclear weaponization in total disregard of the demands of the international community,” Netanyahu said, according to a text message from his office.

Commercial satellite images show Iran has completed cleanup activity at a suspected nuclear weapons-related site, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security wrote in a July 31 report. The IAEA received intelligence information from member states that allegedly show Iran built a blast chamber at the Parchin military complex that could be used to test nuclear-bomb components.

Today’s talks were the sixth since the IAEA and Iran began negotiations over widening access to suspect facilities. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano announced an agreement on May 22, only to have the breakthrough fall apart two weeks later amid Iranian accusations of spying.

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