U.N. nuclear watchdog, Iran fail again to reach deal

Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:25am EST
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By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. inspectors and Iran failed again in talks this week to revive an investigation into suspected nuclear arms research by Tehran, a setback for diplomatic efforts to resolve the atomic dispute with the Islamic Republic peacefully.

Herman Nackaerts, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Friday after returning from Tehran that his inspectors had not been granted the access they have long sought to a military site.

A further round of negotiations was scheduled for February 12, he said, more than a year after the IAEA and Iran held their first in a series of so far largely fruitless meetings.

In a separate note sent to the IAEA's member states about the negotiations over Wednesday and Thursday, seen by Reuters, it said "important differences" between the two sides remained and it had therefore not been possible to wrap up a deal.

The absence of a breakthrough meant to help allay international suspicions over Iranian nuclear ambitions will disappoint world powers seeking a broader diplomatic settlement with Iran that would avert the threat of a new Middle East war.

The Vienna-based IAEA made its best efforts to find a compromise and "one has to question whether there is any political will in Tehran to reach an agreement or whether they are just trying to buy time," one Western envoy said.

"I struggle to be optimistic about the February meeting."

The IAEA's attempts to resume its long-blocked investigation in Iran are separate from but still related to negotiations between Tehran and six world powers, known as the P5+1, that may resume later this month after a seven-month hiatus.   Continued...

Herman Nackaerts, head of a delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) speaks to media before his departure for Iran from the airport in Vienna January 15, 2013. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer