“Intensive” talks between the U.N. atomic watchdog and Iran aimed at persuading the Iranians to address evidence that the agency has collected of suspected nuclear weapons research had failed, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Friday.
“As in our last meeting in June we intended to finalize a structured approach paper that has been under discussion for many months,” IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said after the meeting in Vienna.
“Discussions today were intensive, but important differences remain between Iran and the agency that prevented agreement on this structured approach paper.... At the moment we have no plans for another meeting,” he told reporters, according to AFP news agency.
The IAEA also wants Iran to explain indications that until at least 2003, and possibly since, Tehran carried out “activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
It wants access to specific documents and to scientists involved in Iran’s program, as well as to sites, including the Parchin military base near Tehran, which it visited twice in 2005 but wants to look at again.
So far Iran has flatly rejected the claims, set out in a major IAEA report last November, saying they are based on forged documentation, and denied seeking -- or ever having sought -- to develop atomic weapons.
Iran has said it will allow monitors access only as part of a wider arrangement governing relations between Iran and the watchdog, which experts and diplomats say would limit to an unacceptable degree the IAEA’s inspection rights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a visiting U.S. congressman on Friday that Iran was speeding up its quest for nuclear weapons in defiance of international sanctions.
“Just yesterday, we received additional proof of the fact that Iran is continuing to make accelerated progress toward achieving nuclear weapons while totally ignoring international demands,” Netanyahu’s office quoted him as telling Republican Congressman Mike Rogers.
Netanyahu was referring to a story in Thursday’s Washington Post that cited “diplomats and experts” as saying a forthcoming IAEA report would show Tehran had installed hundreds of new centrifuges “and may also be speeding up production of nuclear fuel.”
Israel and its ally, the United States, accuse Iran of seeking to develop an atomic arsenal but Tehran insists its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes.
Widely suspected to have the region’s sole, if undeclared, nuclear arsenal, Israel has warned that if need be it will attack nuclear facilities in the Islamic republic to prevent it becoming capable of producing nuclear weapons.