UN fails to reach deal on Iran nuclear sites


UN inspectors returned yesterday from talks in Tehran with no deal on access to Iran’s nuclear sites and no date for new talks, failing to produce even a small signal of hope for wider 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 major powers to get Iran to curb a programme they fear could give it the capacity to build a nuclear bomb, something Israel has suggested it will prevent by force if diplomacy fails.

The IAEA and Iran “could not finalise the document” setting out terms for an IAEA inquiry into possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme, chief UN inspector Herman Nackaerts said.

No new date had been set for talks that have shown no progress in more than a year, he said. “Time is needed to reflect on the way forward,” Mr Nackaerts said. The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany are due to meet Iran for separate talks in Kazakhstan on February 26th to tackle a decade-old row that has already produced four rounds of UN sanctions.

But the Islamic republic, which denies any military dimension to its work and is asking for acknowledgement that it is entitled to produce nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes, is heading for a presidential election in June.

That fact alone makes it hard for any official to be seen to make concessions to foreign powers, let alone ones that suit Iran’s enemies, the United States and Israel, which is widely assumed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed power. – (Reuters)