By Alexandra Ulmer
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The United States hopes the U.N. atomic watchdog will be more detailed about its concerns Iran is covertly developing nuclear missiles in a report due out next month, a senior U.S. diplomat said on Thursday.
But it is too early to say if the report about Iran's uranium enrichment program could prompt Tehran's referral to the U.N. Security Council, Glyn Davies, the U.S. envoy to the watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters in Santiago on the first stop of a Latin American trip to study uses of nuclear power.
"We expect the IAEA to begin to get more explicitly into the issue of what is called the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program," Davies said. "I hope what we'll see from the IAEA is sort of a sharpening of the case."
"We'll see whether there's enough there for further action by the board of governors of the IAEA," referring to the possibility of reporting Iran to the U.N. Security Council.
The United States and its allies have urged IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to declare plainly whether he believes there have been military aspects to Tehran's nuclear activities and whether such work may still be going on.
Such a move by the IAEA could raise pressure on Tehran and offer more arguments for Western powers to tighten sanctions on the major oil producer.
Sanctions against Iran are effective, Davies said, and have slowed the country's nuclear program.
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States will prompt Washington to apply the toughest possible sanctions to further isolate Tehran.
SYRIAN REACTOR PROBE
Davies said he didn't know what progress would be made at a planned meeting between United Nations nuclear inspectors and Syrian officials this month to try to kick-start a long-stalled probe into a suspected reactor site bombed to rubble in Syria by Israel in 2007.
"The Syrians have said once again they'll cooperate... I don't know where it's going to go," he said.
U.S. intelligence reports have said that before the Israeli raid, Dair Alzour had housed a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor intended to produce plutonium for atomic weaponry.
Syria says it was a nonnuclear military facility, but the IAEA concluded in May that Dair Alzour was "very likely" to have been a nuclear reactor that should have been declared.
"They (Syria) have been covering up like nobody's business," Davies said. "Obviously there is a bit of hierarchy of safeguard cases ... and for us, Iran looms largest."
Davies is also set to visit Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
(Editing by Simon Gardner and Philip Barbara)