IAEA again fails to reach nuclear agreement with Iran

International Atomic Energy Agency chief inspector Herman Nackaerts (C) speaks to the press as he arrives at the Vienna airport before boarding a plane to Iran, on February 19, 2012. (AFP Photo / Dieter Nagl)
After two days of talks on Iran’s nuclear program, UN nuclear experts have left Tehran without reaching a deal, adding to growing tensions after an Iranian general warned of a pre-emptive strike against any nation that threatens Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency also said that Iran had barred its inspectors from visiting a key military site in Parchin, which it suspects could have been the site of high-explosives tests related to nuclear weapons. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano expressed his disappointment at the development. "We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached," he said. The high-level team of inspectors left Tehran late on Tuesday.

"Intensive efforts were made to reach agreement on a document facilitating the clarification of unresolved issues in connection with Iran's nuclear program, particularly those relating to possible military dimensions," a statement from the UN nuclear watchdog issued early on Wednesday read. “Unfortunately, agreement was not reached on this document."

The first round of negotiations with the Iranian government in January also failed to bring about any deal.

Iran's envoy to IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltani, summed up the results of the two-day visit as “extremely intensive” and promised the sides will continue to conduct negotiations on bilateral co-operation.

The report issued by the IAEA in November states that a large cylindrical chamber built in Parchin was designed to contain the force of up to 70 kg of high explosives. "It remains for Iran to explain the rationale behind these activities," the report noted.

Iran claims it needs enriched uranium for to fuel civilian power plants and has rejected international demands to halt its nuclear program.

On Tuesday, a top Iranian general warned that Iran would pre-emptively strike any country that threatens it. “We do not wait for enemies to take action against us," said General Mohammed Hejazi, Fars news agency reports. "We will use all our means to protect our national interests."

The statement came as Israel made it clear that it does not rule out a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Robert Naiman, a policy director from the Just Foreign Policy think tank believes if Iran got the bomb it would undermine Israel as a regional military power.

“Even [an] Iran with technological capacity [to produce a nuclear weapon] would be an intolerable actor [for Israel], since it could act as a constraint to Israeli military actions in Lebanon or Gaza.”

Naiman told RT that it would be very surprising if Israel were to attack Iran defying the pressure coming from Washington. He explained that the US believes that an Israeli attack “could threaten the world economic recovery, push the US economy back into recession at a time when President Obama and other Democrats are running for re-election.”