U.S.: Iran choosing isolation by planning 10 new nuclear plants
Iran warns it will cut cooperation with UN, two days after IAEA votes to rebuke Tehran over secret enrichment plant.
Iran's announcement of plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants would be a serious violation of its international obligations and further evidence of Tehran's isolation, the White House said on Sunday.
"If true, this would be yet another serious violation of Iran's clear obligations under multiple UN Security Council resolutions and another example of Iran choosing to isolate itself," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
"Time is running out for Iran to address the international community's growing concerns about its nuclear program."
The Iranian government on Sunday approved a plan to construct 10 new uranium enrichment plants, just two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to rebuke the Islamic Republic for building an enrichment plant in secret.
The new enrichment plants would be the same size as its main enrichment complex at Natanz, state broadcaster IRIB reported.
Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran should aim to produce 250-300 tons of nuclear fuel a year, it added.
Iran has one industrial-scale uranium enrichment plant near Natanz, in central Iran. The IAEA said earlier this month that about 8,600 centrifuges had been set up in Natanz, but only about 4,000 were enriching uranium. The facility will eventually house 54,000 centrifuges.
The newly revealed enrichment site, known as Fordo, is a small scale site that will house nearly 3,000 centrifuges.
State broadcaster IRIB said location of five the new plants had already been decided and that work on these should start within two months. At the same time, the parliament agreed that its Atomic Energy Organization should find suitable location for other five.
Iran warns it will cut cooperation with IAEA
Earlier Sunday, Iran's parliament speaker said Tehran could move to reduce its cooperation level with the United Nations nuclear agency watchdog if the West continues to pressure the Islamic state over its nuclear program.
The Islamic Republic has already denounced Friday's IAEA resolution, which won rare backing from China and Russia, as "intimidation" which would poison its talks with world powers.
"If you do not stop these ridiculous carrot-and-stick policies, we will in return adopt new policies and seriously decrease cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Larijani, an influential conservative, told the assembly.
Parliament has the power to oblige the government to change its cooperation with the IAEA, as it did in 2006 after the Vienna-based agency voted to report Iran to the UN Security Council.
Friday's resolution by the 35-nation IAEA board was a sign of spreading alarm over Tehran's failure to dispel fears it has clandestine plans to build nuclear bombs, a charge Iran denies.
It urged Iran to clarify the original purpose of the recently-disclosed Fordow enrichment site, hidden inside a mountain bunker, stop construction and confirm there are no more hidden sites.
But it was far from clear whether the West could now coax Moscow and Beijing to join in tough sanctions against Iran, something they have long prevented at the U.N. Security Council.
Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh on Friday called the resolution a "hasty" step devoid of legal basis, saying Iran would not halt its sensitive nuclear work.
He said Iran would continue to allow basic inspections at its nuclear sites but could stop making "voluntary gestures" of extra cooperation such as when it allowed widened surveillance at its rapidly expanding main enrichment complex at Natanz.
Iran says its atomic energy program is purely for peaceful purposes, aimed at generating electricity.