IAEA reports no progress on Iran

Hu Jintao, right, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Beijing on Thursday.

Story highlights

  • "This is disappointing," IAEA's deputy director general says
  • No date has been set for another meeting
  • Western nations suspect that Iran wants to build nuclear weapons
  • Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes

An official with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency emerged from a meeting with an Iranian delegation in Vienna on Friday and reported no progress on a document intended to resolve issues related to Tehran's nuclear program.

"The agency team came to the meeting in a constructive spirit with the desire and intention of finalizing the paper," International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts said in a statement. "We presented a revised draft which addressed Iran's earlier stated concerns. However, there has been no progress and, indeed, Iran raised issues that we have already discussed and added new ones. This is disappointing."

Iran, world powers agree to meet on nuclear issue

No date has been set for another meeting, he said.

Before the talks, China's President Hu Jintao urged Tehran to take a "flexible and pragmatic" approach, China's foreign ministry said.

Hu told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday, when the two leaders met in Beijing, that China believed in serious dialogue and cooperation as the way to ease tensions, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Ahmadinejad said Iran would continue to pursue negotiations and maintain contact with all sides, Xinhua said.

    Hu's remarks come a day after he and Russian President Vladimir Putin jointly stated that "any attempts to resolve the Iranian issue by force are unacceptable."

    Putin, Ahmadinejad meet before nuclear talks

    Friday's private meeting with Iranian negotiators at the IAEA occurred 10 days ahead of international negotiations over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

    Officials in Vienna had been expected to continue working toward an inspection agreement over Iran's nuclear capabilities.

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    They have been keen to gain access to restricted sites amid rising concern about satellite images taken last month that showed the Iranians had demolished buildings at one site that inspectors have been pressing to visit.

    The agency's director-general, Yukiya Amano, said last month after meeting with Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili in Tehran that a deal that would allow broader inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities could come "quite soon."

    However, Russia and China's support for Tehran this week may have given Iran more leverage in the talks with IAEA officials.

    Hu and Putin, along with four Central Asian partner nations, signed a joint declaration in Beijing on Thursday at the end of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit expressing concern over recent developments in Iran.

    "We believe any attempts to resolve the Iranian issue by force are unacceptable," it said. "Such attempts could lead to unpredictably serious consequences, which would threaten stability and security in the region and the entire world. We call on all parties to maintain maximum restraint, and refrain from words and actions that may lead to further confrontations."

    Hu and Putin also released a joint statement Wednesday expressing opposition to any use of force on Iran.

    "We do not approve exerting excessive pressure and implementing unilateral sanctions against Iran," they said. "We advocate actively working for peace and facilitating talks in resolving the Iran nuclear issue."

    The United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany -- the "P5+1," a reference to Germany plus the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- are to meet June 18-19 with Iran in Moscow for another round of talks on Iran's nuclear program.

    Some world powers, particularly Western nations, suspect that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, although Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

    Last month, during a round of talks with the P5+1 in Baghdad, Iran rejected calls to stop its high enrichment of uranium, while the international powers refused Tehran's demand for an immediate end to sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union that are crippling its economy.

    Because 80% of Iran's foreign revenues are derived from oil exports, an embargo by the EU set to take effect in July will further pressure its economy.

    Tehran threatened this year to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping lane, if sanctions were imposed on its exports of crude oil. Israel, which is believed to have its own nuclear arsenal, has said it may attack Iran to try to stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

    Russia historically has been hesitant to support sanctions on Tehran. In November, it called a new round of sanctions "unacceptable," saying they hinder efforts to reach a diplomatic solution.