An Iranian official on Tuesday rebuked the chief of the United Nations atomic agency for demanding snap inspections of Iran's nuclear sites, saying the request hindered efforts to reach an agreement with world powers, state TV reported.
The United States and five other world powers face an end-of-the-month deadline to reach a framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. Western nations suspect Tehran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside the civilian program. Iran denies such allegations, insisting its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.
Earlier this month Yukiya Amano, the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran should agree to snap inspections to reassure the international community.
Iran's nuclear spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Mr. Amano's comments harm the delicate negotiations. "It would be much better if Amano only talked about the IAEA's seasonal and monthly reports," he said, according to state TV.
Last June, Mr. Kamalvandi said Iran may accept snap inspections as part of a final nuclear agreement.
Iran and the so-called P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany – hope to reach a rough deal on the nuclear program by the end of March and a final agreement by June 30. Iran has called for a single-stage final accord soon.
The latest round of nuclear negotiations ended in Lausanne on Friday after six days of intense discussions among representatives of Iran, the US, and the European Union.
At a UN Security Council briefing by the Iran sanctions committee Tuesday, French Ambassador Francois Delattre said progress in the negotiations "at this point is not sufficient." Britain's deputy ambassador Peter Wilson warned that "we will not agree to a bad deal" and said Iran must show greater flexibility and make tough decisions in the days ahead.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said any deal reached will be "linked to a thorough review" of the UN sanctions regime on Iran.
The talks are to resume Wednesday. Among the unresolved issues meant to be part of an agreement is a ruling by the atomic agency on whether Iran worked on nuclear arms in the past.
Tehran denies that, but the agency says it has information suggesting otherwise. It has remained essentially stalemated for a decade, however, in attempts to follow up on its suspicions.