By Jeremy Herb
International nuclear inspectors said late Tuesday that their mission to decipher Iran’s nuclear intentions failed after they were denied access to a military site.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran twice denied inspectors access to a military site at Parchin, and said inspectors could not agree on a process for answering questions about Iran’s nuclear program.
"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," the IAEA said in a statement. "Unfortunately, agreement was not reached on this document."
The IAEA’s failure to assess Iran’s nuclear activity is likely to further enflame tensions between Iran and the West, where talk of a military strike from Israel to stop Iran’s nuclear program has increased in recent weeks.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, while the United States, Israel and other Western countries say the country is seeking a nuclear weapon.
“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons,” Khamenei said, according to Iran’s Press TV.
President Obama has said that he will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and has not ruled out using force to stop it from happening. On Sunday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said that an Israeli attack on Iran would have a “destabilizing” effect in the region, and top U.S. officials have said they don’t believe Iran has decided yet whether to pursue a nuclear weapon.
At the same time, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was cited in a Washington Post report as believing there’s a strong possibility of an Israeli attack in the spring, which he has not denied.
The United States and European Union have enacted sanctions to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but Iran has threatened in response to close down the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipping route, and continued to flaunt its nuclear advances.
An Iranian military official said Tuesday that Iran would strike pre-emptively if the country felt it was being threatened.
Iran also said last week that it would be open to resuming nuclear talks with the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany.
The IAEA inspectors’ visit to Iran was the second in recent weeks, but neither yielded the answers the IAEA wanted. Director General Yukiya Amano said in Tuesday’s statement that the IAEA team returned from Iran after two days.
“It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin during the first or second meetings," Amano said. “We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached.”