Iran Rebuffs U.N. Nuclear Inspectors (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) By JAY SOLOMON WASHINGTON 02/22/12)
WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Agency Says Tehran Prevented Access to Sites, Scientists; Breakdown
Poses New Obstacle to Renewed Talks With the West
WASHINGTON—Talks between Iran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog
aimed at gaining greater access to Tehran´s nuclear sites, scientists
and documents broke down Tuesday, raising serious questions about the
future for any negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the West.
Inspectors from the U.N.´s International Atomic Energy Agency had
sought this week to visit a military site south of Iran, called
Parchin, that the IAEA believes might be involved in research to
develop atomic weapons. A charge Iran has denied.
The agency has also repeatedly sought to interview key scientists
allegedly involved in the nuclear program and to discuss with Iran
documents that the IAEA believes could show ongoing studies to
develop nuclear weapons.
In a statement released late Tuesday, though, the IAEA´s director
general, Yukiya Amano, said Tehran refused to allow its inspectors to
visit Parchin or to engage in substantive talks concerning the
agency´s concerns about nuclear weapons work. The Japanese diplomat
also refused to indicate any future high-level talks between Iran and
the IAEA to address the nuclear question.
The IAEA delegation´s visit on Monday and Tuesday was its second trip
to Tehran this month aimed at gaining greater cooperation. The
mission was headed by the agency´s chief inspector, Herman Nackaerts
"It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit
Parchin during the first or second meetings," Mr. Amano said in a
statement. "We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was
Iranian officials on Tuesday sought to play down the conflict with
the IAEA by describing the meetings as constructive. They also played
down the issue of Parchin by arguing that it´s not a nuclear facility.
"The aim is to negotiate about cooperation between Iran and the
agency and to set a framework for a continuation of the talks," the
spokesman for Iran´s foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, told
Iranian state news agencies. "Iran´s cooperation with the agency
continues and is at its best level."
The breakdown in the talks raises questions about the future of
potential talks between Iran and world powers that the Obama
administration had hoped could be used to address the nuclear issue
and defuse rising tensions between Tehran and the West.
Last week, Iran´s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, wrote the European
Union´s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, calling for an
immediate resumption of talks without preconditions. Ms. Ashton leads
a bloc of nations seeking to engage with Tehran on the nuclear issue,
which includes the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, U.K., China and
Ms. Ashton, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and European
officials welcomed Iran´s overture, saying it could signal an opening
for a resumption of serious negotiations. But they also said Tehran
would need to display a seriousness to address the West´s concerns
about alleged nuclear weapons work and cited Tehran´s treatment of
the IAEA team as a key barometer.
Senior U.S. officials said late Tuesday that it was uncertain whether
the failed IAEA talks would kill hopes for the broader negotiations.
"Won´t help. Won´t kill" them, said an American official involved in
Tensions between Iran and the West have escalated dramatically in
recent weeks, as the U.S. and EU have imposed draconian new sanctions
on Iran. Washington and Brussels have targeted Iran´s oil exports and
central bank. And last week. European officials said they were
banning most Iranian banks from using the electronic and
communications system that´s at the center of the global banking
Iran has responded by threatening to block the strategic Strait of
Hormuz, through which flows around 40% of the world´s crude oil
exports. And Israel has accused Tehran of attempting to assassinate
Israeli diplomats in recent weeks living in Asia, a charge Tehran had
On Tuesday, Iran threatened to take preemptive military action if it
believed its national security interests were being undermined.
"Our strategy now is that if we feel our enemies want to endanger
Iran´s national interests, and want to decide to do that, we will act
without waiting for their actions," Mohammed Hejazi, the deputy armed
forces head, told Iranian state media.
Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran if international
efforts to contain Tehran´s nuclear advances stalled.
Many Western diplomats had hoped the Israeli threats and the mounting
sanctions might force Tehran to make some concessions to the IAEA and
the West. But now some analysts said Tehran might be signaling the
end of any substantive cooperation with the U.N. agency.
"The Iranians now see the IAEA as an extension of the U.S,
government," said Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, a Washington think tank. "They feel they have no
incentive to be transparent [with the IAEA] as it will only further
The IAEA is scheduled to release its quarterly report on the status
of Iran´s nuclear work in the next few weeks. The agency´s November
report marked its most direct charge that the IAEA believes Iran has
sought to develop nuclear weapons. (Copyright © Dow Jones & Company,
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