The United Nations atomic watchdog failed to reach a deal with Iran that would give inspectors access to alleged nuclear facilities and couldn’t agree on a date for a future meeting, the agency’s top negotiator said.
“We will work hard now to try and resolve the remaining differences, but time is needed to reflect on a way forward,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said today at Vienna International Airport after returning from a one-day meeting in Tehran. The IAEA, which had announced new dates for discussions after its last two rounds of talks, has “unwavering” commitment to the process, he said.
A team of UN inspectors led by Nackaerts met yesterday with Iranian officials to win access to people and places, including a military base in Parchin, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Tehran. The IAEA says it was provided with intelligence that Iran may have built a blast chamber for testing nuclear-weapons components at the military site.
Nackaerts’s comments contrasted with more optimistic remarks made late yesterday by Iran’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, suggesting that some disagreements had been bridged and the two sides would meet again to discuss fresh proposals.
“Some differences were overcome and we agreed on certain points,” Soltanieh said in Tehran after the talks. “It was agreed that the two sides would review new proposals made and give their opinions in the next meeting.”
Oil prices, which initially fell on Iranian news reports of progress, neared a three-day high in London. Brent crude for April settlement climbed as much as 41 cents to $118.29 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange and traded at $117.49 at 11:30 a.m. local time.
The IAEA’s investigation into alleged atomic-weapons work by Iranian scientists is in its 10th year. The Persian Gulf nation denies allegations that it seeks to build atomic bombs and says it isn’t willing to give wider access to inspectors until its right as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are officially recognized and it is allowed to see documents on which claims about its atomic program are based.
Iran will also resume stalled multilateral negotiations on its nuclear work with the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China on Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan. The last round of talks between Iran and the group, known as P5+1, were held in Moscow in June and failed to yield results, with world powers asking the Islamic Republic to suspend production of 20 percent enriched uranium while Iran pressed for relief from financial and trade sanctions imposed over its atomic program.
The U.S. warned in November that absent Iranian agreement to boost IAEA cooperation, the nation faced another referral to the Security Council. The IAEA’s 35-member board of governors convenes in Vienna on March 4 to discuss Iran.