VIENNA - Two senior UN nuclear watchdog officials who have been leading talks with Iran will leave this year, potentially robbing it of experience and expertise in dealing with Tehran over its disputed atomic program.
The management reshuffle coincides with apparent deadlock in the agency's push since early last year to coax Iran into allowing its inspectors to restart a long-stalled investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by the Islamic Republic.
Western diplomats blame Iranian stonewalling for the failure to come to an agreement, a charge Tehran denies, and some say the UN agency may soon need to reconsider its tactics. A new round of talks could be held in May.
"I think that we were approaching a potential re-set anyway. It is clear that Iran has been able to stall the process," a diplomat in Vienna said.
Rafael Grossi, assistant director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been named Argentina's envoy to the Vienna-based IAEA, a job he is expected to start in the summer, a diplomatic source said on Friday.
The IAEA last month said a senior Finnish nuclear official, Tero Varjoranta, would succeed Herman Nackaerts when he retires in the autumn as chief nuclear inspector in charge of monitoring Iran's atomic activities and other sensitive issues.
Nackaerts, a Belgian, and Grossi have headed the IAEA's team of experts who have met nine times with Iranian envoys since early 2012 in an attempt - so far in vain - to secure access to sites, documents and officials in the country.