UN Nuclear Chief 'Concerned' Over Iran Plan to Increase Uranium Production

Yukiya Amano to meet with Iran foreign minister in bid to check nuclear program, restore confidence in international community.

The UN nuclear chief said on Wednesday that he planned to meet with Iran's foreign minister next week, adding that he was "quite concerned" over Tehran’s plans to triple uranium production capacity.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told Reuters in the Colombian capital, Bogota, that he planned to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi next week, but had no firm details on the meeting.

IAEA Yukiya Amano AP - 24.01.2011

"The most important message for Iran is that they need to fully implement the safeguard agreement and other relevant obligations. Further cooperation is needed to restore the confidence of the international community," he said.

"We are quite concerned about that," Amano said, confirming that the IAEA had received a "very simple" letter from Iran about the plans.

Iran announced last month it would shift its production of higher-grade uranium to an underground bunker and triple output capacity in a defiant move that has further fueled Western unease about Tehran's intentions.

Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability while Tehran rejects the charge, saying its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.

Iran's refusal to halt enrichment has led to four rounds of UN sanctions on the major oil producer, as well tighter U.S. and European Union restrictions.

Iran's determination to press ahead with a nuclear program suggests that the sanctions have thus far failed to force the Islamic state to back down in the long-running dispute over its atomic aims.

Amano reiterated he would consider accepting an invitation to visit Iran but stressed it would have to yield concrete results: "For now I don't see, unfortunately, progress."

When asked about Syria -- which the IAEA's board reported to the Security Council in early June for covert atomic work -- Amano said that there had been no "concrete progress".