VIENNA: Nuclear talks betweenIranand the UN atomic agency failed yet again Wednesday, as a topUSdiplomat said she expected the iaea to reportTehranto the UN Security Council soon.

The iaea announcement came just as EU foreign policy chief was due to meetIran’s chief nuclear negotiator inIstanbulfor the first time since failed six-party talks in April.

“We could not finalise the structured approach document that has been under negotiation for a year and a half,” the International Atomic Energy Agency’s chief inspector told reporters.

“Our best efforts have not been successful so far,” Herman Nackaerts said, adding that no new date for another meeting had been set.

Iran’s envoy in the more than eight hours of “intensive” talks in Vienna, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was characteristically more upbeat, saying that the next meeting would see a deal finalised.

“The aim of this ... is to bridge the gaps towards a conclusion of the text by the next meeting,” he told a joint press briefing.

The iaea was pressing Iranian officials to grant access to sites, documents and scientists involved in Tehran’s alleged efforts to develop atomic weapons, mostly before 2003 but possibly ongoing.

Iransays the IAEA’s findings are based on faulty intelligence from foreign spy agencies such as the CIA andIsrael’s Mossad - intelligence it complains it has not even been allowed to see.

Nine rounds of talks since the publication of a major iaea report in November 2011 have produced no breakthrough.

Wendy Sherman, the head of theUSdelegation in parallel six-party talks withIran, meanwhile indicated inWashingtonthat patience was wearing thin over the lack of progress betweenTehranand the iaea .

“At some point, the director general of the iaea will have to return to the (UN) Security Council and say ‘I can go no further; there has been no response; you have to take further action’,” she told Senate Foreign Relations hearing.

“Whether that will happen this June or whether that will happen in September, I’m not sure.

“But there will come a point at which all of the international community, all of the Security Council will have to confront that the iaea is not able to move forward in finding out the dimensions ofIran’s nuclear programme.”

Parallel diplomatic efforts meanwhile betweenIranand six major powers - theUS,China,Russia,Britain,FranceandGermany- are focused more onIran’s current activities, most notably uranium enrichment.

Enriched uranium is at the heart of the international community’s concerns since it can be used not only for peaceful purposes such as power generation but also - when highly purified - in a nuclear bomb.

The latest round with the “P5+1” in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in early April ended with lead negotiator and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying the two sides remained “far apart” despite the P5+1 having sweetened an earlier offer.

Ashton was due to meetIran’s chief nuclear negotiator in the talks , Saeed Jalili, for a working dinner inIstanbulon Wednesday evening.

The UN Security Council has passed multiple resolutions calling onIranto suspend all uranium enrichment, imposing several rounds of sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Additional US and EU sanctions last year began to cause major economic problems by targeting thePersian Gulfcountry’s vital oil sector and financial system.

Israel, theMiddle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, meanwhile has refused to rule out military action onIran- as has US President Barack Obama.

Efforts to resolve the long-running dispute are complicated by the fact thatIrangoes to the polls on June 14 to choose a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with Jalili himself among the hopefuls.

“It is clear that no progress is possible before the election,” Mark Fitzpatrick, analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies inLondon, told AFP.

“Progress would require compromise onIran’s part, which would provide ammunition for political mudslinging and claims of sellout,” he said.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi denied inTehranon Tuesday that the election posed a barrier to progress.

“If the P5+1 group prefer to wait (to resume the talks) afterIran’s election, that will be their decision. But from our point of view, the talks can continue normally,” Araqchi said.