U.N. nuclear talks with Iran fail, no new meeting set

Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:48am EST
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By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. inspectors returned on Thursday from talks in Tehran with no deal on reviving a nuclear investigation and no date for a new meeting, failing to produce even a small signal of hope for big power diplomacy aimed at averting a war.

"Despite its many commitments to do so, Iran has not negotiated in good faith," said a Western diplomat accredited to the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna who was not at the talks. "It appears that we now have to ask ourselves if this is still the right tactic."

The deadlock is a chilling signal for a wider effort by six world powers to get Iran to curb activity that they believe could give it the capacity to build nuclear bombs - something Israel has suggested it will prevent by force if necessary.

Further alarming its foes, Iran said this week it was installing advanced machines to refine uranium - a step that could significantly speed up its accumulation of material that the West fears could be used to develop a nuclear weapon.

A diplomatic source confirmed on Thursday that the IAEA, which regularly inspects Iranian nuclear facilities, had seen a small number of new-style centrifuges at Iran's main enrichment plant at Natanz, positioned to be installed.

The U.N. watchdog has been trying since January last year to negotiate a framework with Iran that would let inspectors resume a long-stalled inquiry into suspected atom bomb research by the Islamic Republic.

But Wednesday's meeting in Tehran "could not finalize the document" on the inquiry, chief U.N. inspector Herman Nackaerts told reporters on his return to Vienna.

He said no date had been set for more talks, adding: "Time is needed to reflect on the way forward."   Continued...

Iran's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh briefs the media after a meeting with IAEA's chief inspector Herman Nackaerts at the Iranian embassy in Vienna August 24, 2012. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer