"This year, under the supervision of the (International Atomic Energy) Agency (IAEA), we will transfer 20 percent enrichment from the Natanz site to the Fordow site and we will increase the production capacity by three times," Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani, Iran's atomic energy chief, told the media after a cabinet meeting, Reuters reported
Abbasi-Davani told reporters the production increase will be enabled by the installation of 3,000 164-machine centrifuge cascades at the new site, Radio Free Europe reported
The Iranian announcement came after IAEA head Yukiya Amano wrote to the regime expressing concerns about the state's nuclear program, as many Western states fear the Iranian program may lead towards the production of nuclear weapons.
In the letter, Amano called on Iran to grant the agency greater access to the state's nuclear facilities to dispel international worries over the militarization of its nuclear program.
“I also requested that Iran provide prompt access to relevant locations, equipment, documentation and persons,” Amano said in a statement released June 6, the Washington Post reported
Iran maintains the increase in production is strictly for energy purposes, such as producing fuel for a medical research reactor, as reported by Radio Free Europe.
Despite Iranian claims, it's unlikely world powers will be any less distrustful with Iran's nuclear program, much less the state's intentions for it.
"It reinforces the international community's existing concerns over the intransigence of the Iranian authorities and their persistent violation of international law, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement reported by Reuters.
Mark Fitzpatrick, a leading proliferation expert at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Reuters Iran is certainly raising stakes among the international community.
"There is absolutely no justification for producing any more 20 per cent enriched uranium at all, since any reactors that would use it are far off into the future," he told Reuters. "Tripling the production rate would be highly provocative."
The move is additionally worrisome for the West as the announcement to increase production nudges Iran's enrichment levels closer to the 90 per cent needed for making atomic bombs, Radio Free Europe reported.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the IAEA accusations, stating they were dictated by Washington and warned Amano of being biased against Iran, claiming all the of the state's nuclear activities were compliant with international law, the Washington Post reported.
U.S. President Barack Obama, in a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters if Iran continued to shy away from serious talks about its nuclear program it may face further sanctions from the international community, the Post said.
“If the International Atomic Energy Agency this week determines again that Iran is continuing to ignore its international obligations, then we will have no choice but to consider additional steps, including potentially additional sanctions, to intensify the pressure on the Iranian regime,” said Obama during the news conference.