Iran defiant as U.N. nuclear talks fail (REUTERS) By Fredrik Dahl and Parisa Hafezi VIENNA/TEHRAN 02/22/12 5:42pm EST)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog ended its latest mission to
Iran after talks on Tehran´s suspected secret atomic weapons research
failed, a setback likely to increase the risk of confrontation with
The United States criticized Iran on Wednesday over the failure of
the International Atomic Energy Agency´s latest mission, saying it
again showed Tehran´s refusal to abide by its international
obligations over its nuclear program.
Expressing defiance, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said
Iran´s nuclear policies would not change despite mounting
international pressure against what the West says are Iran´s plans to
obtain nuclear bombs.
"With God´s help, and without paying attention to propaganda, Iran´s
nuclear course should continue firmly and seriously," he said on
state television. "Pressures, sanctions and assassinations will bear
no fruit. No obstacles can stop Iran´s nuclear work."
A team from the Vienna-based IAEA had hoped to inspect a site at
Parchin, southeast of Tehran, where the agency believes there is a
facility to test explosives. But the IAEA said Iran "did not grant
The failure of the two-day visit by the IAEA could hamper any
resumption of wider nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world
powers - the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and
Germany - as the sense grows that Tehran feels it is being backed
into a corner.
In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney also said the United
States was continuing to evaluate Iran´s intentions after Tehran sent
a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week,
raising hopes for the prospects of renewed talks with world powers.
"This particular action by Iran suggests that they have not changed
their behavior when it comes to abiding by their international
obligations," Carney told reporters, expressing U.S. disappointment
that the IAEA mission had ended in failure.
Iran rejects accusations that its nuclear program is a covert bid to
develop a nuclear weapons capability, saying it is seeking to produce
As sanctions mount, ordinary Iranians are suffering from the effects
of soaring prices and a collapsing currency. Several Iranian nuclear
scientists have been killed over the past two years in bomb attacks
that Tehran has blamed on its arch-adversary Israel.
In response, Iran has issued a series of statements asserting its
right to self-defense and threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz,
a vital oil tanker route.
The collapse of the nuclear talks came as Iran seems increasingly
isolated, with some experts seeing the Islamic republic´s mounting
defiance in response to sanctions against its oil industry and
financial institutions as evidence that it is in no mood to
compromise with the West.
Parliamentary elections on March 2 are expected to be won by
supporters of Khamenei, an implacable enemy of the West.
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 Jerusalem, Israel´s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed
appeals by world powers to avoid any pre-emptive attacks against
Iran´s nuclear program.
Lieberman said that "with all due respect I have for the United
states and Russia, it´s none of their business. The security of
Israel and its residents, Israel´s future, is the responsibility of
The failure of the IAEA´s mission may increase the chances of a
strike by Israel on Iran, some analysts say.
But this would be "catastrophic for the region and for the whole
system of international relations," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Gennady Gatilov said.
Referring to Iran´s role in the failure of the IAEA mission, French
Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said: "It is another
missed opportunity. This refusal to cooperate adds to the recent
statements made by Iranian officials welcoming the progress of their
In the view of some analysts, the Iranians may be trying to keep
their opponents guessing as to their capabilities, a diplomatic
strategy that has served them well in the past.
"But they may be overdoing the smoke and mirrors and as a result
leaving themselves more vulnerable," said professor Rosemary Hollis
of London´s City University.
´WAGING A WAR´
Iranian analyst Mohammad Marandi said providing the West with any
more access than necessary to nuclear sites would be a sign of
"Under the current conditions it is not in Iran´s interest to
cooperate more than is necessary because the West is waging a war
against the Iranian nation," he told Reuters.
Earlier, Iran´s envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Tehran
expected to hold more talks with the U.N. agency, but IAEA Director
General Yukiya Amano´s spokeswoman said no further meetings were
"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 IAEA said in a
"It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit
Parchin. We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was
reached," Amano said.
A Western official added: "We think that if Iran has nothing to hide,
why do they behave in that way?"
Iran´s refusal to curb sensitive atomic activities which can have
both civilian and military purposes and its record of years of
nuclear secrecy have drawn increasingly tough U.N. and separate U.S.
and European measures.
An IAEA report in November suggested Iran had pursued military
nuclear technology. It helped precipitate the latest sanctions by the
European Union and United States.
One key finding was information that Iran had built a large
containment chamber at Parchin to conduct high-explosives tests. The
U.N. agency said there were "strong indicators of possible weapon
The IAEA said intensive efforts had been made to reach agreement on a
document "facilitating the clarification of unresolved issues" in
connection with Iran´s nuclear program.
"Unfortunately, agreement was not reached on this document," it said
in an unusually blunt statement on Wednesday.
(Additional reporting by Dan Williams, John Irish, William Maclean
and Matt Spetalnick; writing by Giles Elgood and Will Dunham; editing
by Mohammad Zargham) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 02/22/12)
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