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‘Talks with Iran failed’

world Updated: Feb 23, 2012 00:01 IST

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it had failed to secure an agreement with Iran during talks over disputed atomic activities and that the Islamic Republic had rejected a request to visit a military site.

The failure of the two-day meeting may hamper any resumption of wider nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers and add to rising tension with the West, which has stepped up sanctions on the major oil producer in recent months.

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had hoped to inspect a site at Parchin, southeast of the capital Tehran, where the agency believes there is a containment chamber to test explosives, suggesting possible weapon development.

Iran has denied the charge that it is developing nuclear weapons.

“During both the first and second round of discussions, the agency team requested access to the military site at Parchin. Iran did not grant permission for this visit to take place,” the Vienna-based IAEA said in a statement.

“It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin. We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached,” said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

Earlier, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told the country's ISNA news agency that Tehran expected to hold more talks with the U.N. agency, whose task it is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the world.

But Amano’s spokeswoman, Gill Tudor, made clear no further meetings were planned: “At this point in time there is no agreement on further discussions,” she said.

Iran rejects accusations that its nuclear programme is a covert bid to develop a nuclear weapons capability, saying it is seeking to produce only
electricity.

But its refusal to curb sensitive atomic activities which can have both civilian and military purposes, and its track record of years of nuclear secrecy has drawn increasingly tough UN and separate U.S. and European measures.

The United States and Israel have not ruled out using force against Iran if they conclude that diplomacy and sanctions will not stop it from developing a nuclear bomb.

In Washington, no immediate comment was available from the US State Department on the IAEA statement.