Tehran: Iran said on Monday it needs to speed up the nuclear fuel production to feed its research power plant in Tehran which produces radioisotopes.

Iran announced on Wednesday that the country will triple its 20 per cent uranium enrichment output.

Asked about the reasons behind the increase, Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh said, "We need 120 kg of 20-per cent enriched uranium. Of course, we have been able to successfully produce over 50 kg."

"But we still need (more), we have to speed up," he said, adding "because the Tehran research reactor is in desperate need for fuel, because Tehran reactor should produce radioisotopes for hospitals."

Blaming the Vienna group for the failure of providing the 20 per cent enriched uranium for Tehran research reactor, he said the group, comprising France, Russia and the United States, has lost the chance.

After Iran announced to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2009 that it had run out of nuclear fuel for its research reactor in Tehran, the Agency proposed a deal according to which Iran would send 3.5 per cent enriched uranium and receive 20 per cent enriched uranium from potential suppliers in return, all through the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

The proposal was first introduced on October 1, 2009 when Iranian representatives and diplomats from the US, France and Russia - as potential suppliers - held high-level talks in Vienna.

But France and the United States, as potentials suppliers, stalled the talks soon after the start. They offered a deal which would keep Tehran waiting for months before it could obtain the fuel, a luxury of time that Iran could not afford as it is about to run out of 20 per cent enriched uranium.

The Iranian Parliament rejected the deal after technical studies showed that it would only take two to three months for any country to further enrich the nuclear stockpile and turn it into metal nuclear rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, while suppliers had announced that they would not return fuel to Iran any less than seven months.

Iran then put forward its own proposal that envisaged a two-staged exchange. According to Tehran's offer, the IAEA would safeguard nearly one third of Iran's uranium stockpile inside the Iranian territory for the time that it took to find a supplier. The western countries opposed Tehran's proposal.

(Agencies)