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IAEA Wants Iran To Clarify Nuclear Expansion Plan

Newly elected Director-General Yukiya Amano said the IAEA "a lot of difficult challenges."
VIENNA (Reuters) -- The UN nuclear agency said today it wants Iran to clarify its plan to build 10 more uranium-enrichment plants and said Tehran had not yet informed it of the decision.

The Iranian announcement, made through state media on November 29, was a gesture of defiance after an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution rebuking Tehran for its nuclear secrecy.

Iran has said the expansion would start within the next two months and that five sites had already been chosen for the plants, which will be the same size as its main enrichment complex at Natanz.

"Iran has not yet informed the agency directly of its decision. The agency will be seeking clarification from Iran on its announcement," the IAEA said in a statement.

Earlier today Japan's Yukiya Amano took charge of the IAEA.

"The situation surrounding the agency is stormy now. We have a lot of difficult challenges," he said in brief remarks to reporters without commenting on Iran.

Analysts believe Iran's stated plan to expand enrichment may be largely bluster for now as it would take many years if not decades to execute.

They said UN sanctions would make it hard for Iran to amass the needed equipment, Iran probably lacks sufficient uranium reserves, and technical problems appear to be hampering its existing, single enrichment plant.