Iran says it has discovered enough new uranium to triple output of its nuclear energy program, an announcement sure to muddle scheduled talks with UN leaders next week.
Because Iran can’t import nuclear material, it must rely on domestic production, Reuters reported.
“We have discovered new sources of uranium in the country and we will put them to use in the near future,” Iran’s nuclear agency chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani told state media, according to Reuters.
The deposits are in north and south coastal regions, reports said, although there has been no independent verification.
Iran also identified 16 sites for new nuclear power plants that could be built over the next 15 years, BBC reported.
The Islamic Republic said its uranium stores are about 4,400 metric tonnes, and western observers believed the country would exhaust those supplies soon.
Iran’s nuclear agency credited 18 months of “round-the-clock efforts” to replenish its uranium supply.
“This made it possible for the Islamic Republic of Iran to move to a more advanced level in the field of nuclear industry among those countries that possess nuclear technology,” the Atomic Energy
Organization of Iran said, according to BBC.
Iranian officials are to meet Western leaders on Tuesday in Kazakhstan to discuss Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
More from GlobalPost: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran isn’t building nuclear bomb
America and its allies want assurances Iran isn’t attempting to build nuclear weapons; Iran says its nuclear reactors are for energy and research purposes.
After talks stalled last year, a French official told AFP today that allies would offer concessions to Iran at the meeting.
“We will make a new offer that will contain significant new elements. We want a true exchange, leading to concrete results,” French foreign ministry spokesman Vincent Floreani told the news agency.
More from GlobalPost: US should rework failed policies on Middle East, North Korea