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29 Nov, 2009 19:08

Iran reacts to world's criticism with 10 new uranium plants

The Iranian government approved on Sunday the building of ten new uranium enrichment plants. It comes amid mounting pressure over the country's disputed nuclear program.

On Monday, one of the country’s vice presidents reportedly said that Tehran had no intention of building new enrichment facilities, until it was criticized by the UN nuclear watchdog.

Ali Akbar Salehi told state radio that his country needed to give a strong response to Friday’s International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) resolution that demands the immediate suspension of the building of a newly revealed nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom and halting other enrichment activities.

The atomic energy organization of Iran received instructions from the government to build five plants similar to the nuclear center in Natanz – currently the only operating enrichment facility in the Islamic Republic. In addition, five further plants will be located in different parts of the country.

On Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that in order to produce 20 megawatts of atomic energy, 500 new centrifuges will be required.

“We need to achieve the rate of production of 250-300 tons a year,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Iranian parliament is urging the government to scale back cooperation with the UN's atomic agency.

Iran's leaders remain defiant following an IAEA resolution that condemned Tehran's efforts to enrich uranium, calling it “a backward step.”

Both Russia and China backed the UN watchdog's declaration, hinting that more sanctions could follow.

Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, something which many world powers dispute.

Iran's chief representative to the atomic agency, Ali Asgar Soltaneih, told RT that the UN's move will damage chances of a compromise.

“This is a real humanitarian disaster if they [UN] will not cooperate”, he added.

"In the last months Iran has been toughening its policy," said Russian Academy of Science political analyst Aleksey Fenenko. "We remember the military maneuvers and the rejection of the proposals made by the Geneva Six. What Iran is trying to do is to work out the US position. Iran feels that Barack Obama is not as tough a leader as George Bush was and his national security is still governed by the Bush-era documentation. So Iran must find out how far it can go."