IAEA chief Yukiya Amano: Iran nuclear talks 'going around in circles'


Some Iranian students gather as they protest at the Imam Khomini’ airport in Tehran on January 29, 2012 during the arrival of the team of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. The IAEA team arrived on a mission to clear up what it called 'outstanding substantive issues' on Tehran's nuclear programme, the official IRNA news agency said. The UN atomic watchdog's chief inspector, the Belgian Herman Nackaerts, is leading the IAEA delegation that is scheduled to hold talks with Iranian officials from later Sunday to Tuesday, the report added.



The chief of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said Tehran may have destroyed or hidden aspects of its much-debated nuclear program, and that recent negotiations have been unproductive.

Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Monday that "very extensive" engineering work at Iran's Parchin military base may have made inspecting the base pointless, though he still stopped short of withdrawing the agency's request for access.

"It may no longer be possible to detect anything," Amano told reporters at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, adding that he wished "we had had the opportunity to have access to Parchin much earlier."

IAEA inspectors have not had access to Parchin since 2011, with Iran claiming that the UN agency has no need to visit the base since it's not a nuclear facility. However, the IAEA alleges that satellite images show activity suggesting the large-scale removal of soil, asphalting and breakdown of infrastructure, which could indicate a cover-up.

But Amano added: "I still believe it is necessary for us to have access to the site because by visiting the site we can learn a lot of things. Also we should not forget it is not only the site that we have questions [about]."

In related news on Monday, the US increased economic pressure on Tehran with sanctions targeting Iran's auto-sector and the rial, its currency, which has already lost much of its value since late 2011.

"The objective is to take aim at the rial and to make it as unusable a currency as possible, which is all part and parcel of our efforts to apply significant financial pressure on the government of Iran," an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on a conference call.

The new sanctions go into effect on July 1.