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US Disappointed Over Failure Of IAEA-Iran Nuke Talks

2/23/2012 3:28 AM ET

The United States has expressed dismay at the failure of the recent talks between representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran due to the latter's refusal to permit an IAEA team to inspect a key military facility.

"We regret the failure of Iran to reach an agreement this week with the IAEA that would permit the agency to fully investigate the serious allegations raised in its November report," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news briefing on Wednesday.

Carney described Iran's failure to allow U.N. inspectors to inspect the Parchin military site-- believed to be used for explosives testing related to setting off a nuclear weapon-- as "another demonstration of Iran's refusal to abide by its international obligations."

He, however, added that the six world powers, namely the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, were studying a letter recently sent by Iran to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressing willingness to resume the stalled negotiations on its disputed nuclear program.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner also expressed disappointment at the failure of the IAEA-Iran talks, and said: "This is a disappointment. It's not particularly surprising. But,...the fact that Iran didn't allow them to visit certain facilities, none of this is surprising. We've seen this before, frankly."

"We want to see them (Iran) cooperate. We want to see them address the international community's very well-founded concerns about their nuclear program, and that remains our goal. And that remains our goals via the IAEA, but also working within the P-5 plus one," Toner said.

Saying that the United States and the other world powers were carefully studying Iran's recent offer for talks on its disputed nuclear program, Toner said: We're going to look at the totality of the issue here and the letter and what we think is the best course of action moving forward."

Regarding the recent sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S. and some of its allies, Toner said: "The two-track approach that we've often talked about is going to remain in place. We want to see negotiations move forward. There is that diplomatic track. But we're not going to ease up on the sanctions."

The U.S. reaction comes a day after the IAEA announced on Wednesday that talks held between its inspectors and Iranian authorities on the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear program ended without progress. The IAEA team had visited Iran earlier this week for talks aimed at clarifying the "possible military dimensions" of Tehran's nuclear activity.

The five-member IAEA team's visit to Iran was the second in less than a month, following its November 2011 report indicating that Iran was aiming to develop atomic weapons under its disputed nuclear program. That visit also ended without a breakthrough in January.

Although Iran insists that its uranium enrichment work is aimed at producing fuel for a medical-purpose reactor, the West suspects Tehran's claims are just a cover-up for producing weapon-grade uranium. Nevertheless, Tehran argues that it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as it is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the IAEA.

Iran has already survived four sets of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council following refusal to halt its uranium enrichment. The oil-rich country has also been hit by separate sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union, Canada and Britain in recent months. The West hopes that the recent sanctions targeting the country's central bank as well as its oil sector would persuade Iran to rejoin the stalled nuclear negotiations with the six world powers.

Since the last U.N. sanctions in October 2010, the six world powers have held two rounds of talks with Iran, once in Geneva in December 2010 and later in Istanbul in January 2011. Both negotiations failed to reach any agreements on the issue.

by RTT Staff Writer

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