Iran wants more UN nuclear talks

Iran wants more talks with the UN nuclear watchdog, its ambassador to the body said, despite what one Western envoy called “very long and fruitless” negotiations this week on addressing growing suspicions about Tehran’s atomic activities.

The relatively upbeat comments by Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were in stark contrast to a terse statement issued by the UN agency on Wednesday after the two days of discussions in Tehran.

“Our position is that we are going to continue the talks for cooperation with the agency and we hope that this process will be successfully going on,” said Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

“We need a quiet environment, a calm environment to continue our professional work with the agency,” he said on Thursday night.

The IAEA, a Vienna-based UN agency, said no further meetings with Iran are planned, signaling frustration at the lack of progress in two rounds of talks this year. The setback increased worries about a downward spiral towards conflict between Iran and the West, and sent oil prices higher.

Western diplomats suspect Iran is merely seeking “talks about talks” in an attempt to ease outside pressure on the Islamic state while it presses ahead with nuclear work which the United States and its allies believe has military links.

Iran said allegations of nuclear weapons aims are baseless. “We try to be cooperative,” said Soltanieh. “We are dealing with the questions and we are trying to remove ambiguities.”

The IAEA said Iranian officials refused to grant it access to a military site crucial for its investigations and also that there was no agreement on a way forward to clarify concerns that the Islamic Republic may be developing nuclear arms capability.

Western diplomats said Iran had continued to stonewall the senior IAEA team during the talks, in which the agency sought answers to intelligence pointing to nuclear weapons research and development in the country.

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