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IAEA Team Returns From Iran Empty-Handed

Herman Nackaerts (center), deputy director general and head of the Department of Safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is interviewed as he arrives after his flight from Iran at Vienna's Schwechat airport on Wednesday.
Ronald Zak

A team of United Nations nuclear experts has returned from Iran empty-handed. In a statement today, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran refused the team access to a military site at Parchin.

The statement read in part:

"Intensive efforts were made to reach agreement on a document facilitating the clarification of unresolved issues in connection with Iran's nuclear programme, particularly those relating to possible military dimensions. Unfortunately, agreement was not reached on this document.

" 'It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin during the first or second meetings,' IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said. 'We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached.' "

The Guardian notes that the IAEA puts out statements that are oftentimes cryptic. This one, it says, reflects "no ambiguity about the failure of the latest U.N. mission to Iran."

The AP reports that the trip had sparked hope that it could resolve deepening tensions between Iran and the West. The IAEA team was in Iran at the invitation of the government. The visit was supposed to clear up disputes over whether Iranian scientists were secretly working on nuclear weapons.

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The AP adds that supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated that point in a statement on his personal website, but during an appearance today, he made no mention of the IAEA visit and said that "despite international efforts to pressure the Islamic Republic, Iran would not change its nuclear course."

"Pressure, sanctions and assassinations will only help the Iranian people realize that they are on the right path and they will continue [on this path]," Khamenei said, according to the AP.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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