U.N. nuclear chief frustrated by stalemated talks with Iran

Story highlights

  • U.N. agency wants access to Iranian military site of suspected nuclear experiments
  • Source: Iran has made changes to the base; it may be impossible to find evidence
  • Iran says report proves it is engaging in peaceful pursuits
  • U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran's currency, auto industry
Talks between Iran and the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency are "going around in circles," the agency's director general told a meeting of U.N. officials in Vienna on Monday.
Yukiya Amano said Iran has to first address the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency requirement of effective verification for Iran's claim that its program is for peaceful activities.
He called on Iran to provide access to the Parchin military complex, where the Islamic Republic is believed to have tested rockets.
A senior Western diplomat in Vienna said Amano has stated it may no longer be possible for IAEA inspectors to find anything at the site. The diplomat said that the Iranians have paved over a large part of the area surrounding a building where the IAEA suspects the Iranians were conducting nuclear experiments.
Amano has said in the past that even if inspectors are allowed in, it is unlikely they would be able to find anything.
According to state media in Iran, the country's ambassador to the IAEA said all centrifuges and every gram of uranium in Iran are under the agency's review.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh said an IAEA report proves Iran is developing a nuclear program that will provide energy.
"In fact, this report is a clear indication that Iran is successfully continuing its nuclear activities for peaceful purposes and this is an important message to the whole world," he said, according to Iranian Press TV. "Therefore, those few countries that have not coped themselves with the reality, they should cope themselves with the reality that Iran is mastering enrichment technology and (that) Iran is fully cooperating with the IAEA."
Not true, Amano said.
"As my report on safeguards implementation in Iran shows, the (IAEA) continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities."
Also Monday, the White House announced new sanctions on Iran. The sanctions hit Iran's unit of currency -- the rial -- and the automotive industry, a statement from the Obama administration said. In a move that could make it difficult to use the rial outside of Iran, the president ordered sanctions on international banks and firms that conduct significant transactions or have large accounts involving the rial.
"The steps taken today are part of President Obama's commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, by raising the cost of Iran's defiance of the international community," the statement said. "Even as we intensify our pressure on the Iranian government, we hold the door open to a diplomatic solution that allows Iran to rejoin the community of nations if they meet their obligations.
The new sanctions follow the Treasury Department's targeting of Iran's petrochemical industry.
Treasury also sanctioned companies and individuals from Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates that lease and sell aircraft to two Iranian airlines the United States says is involved in illicit activities to fund and support Iran's elite Quds Force.
The Quds Force has been implicated by the United States and other governments for its role in plotting or carrying out terrorist operations both in American and around the world.