TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran said on Monday it is considering plans to build two new uranium enrichment plants concealed inside mountains to avert air strikes, drawing condemnation from the United States.
The announcement from Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi came soon after top US General David Petraeus warned that Washington would now pursue a "pressure track" against Iran to thwart its galloping nuclear programme.
"Inshallah (God willing), in the next Iranian year (starting in March) as ordered by the president we may start the construction of two new enrichment sites," Salehi told ISNA news agency.
Last November, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Iran would build 10 new uranium enrichment plants, after Tehran was strongly rebuked by world powers for building a second enrichment plant near the Shiite holy city of Qom.
Salehi said the enrichment capacities of the new sites would be similar to the existing facility in the central city of Natanz, where a defiant Tehran is refining uranium despite three sets of UN sanctions.
According to the latest UN nuclear watchdog report, Iran has installed in Natanz 8,610 centrifuges, the device which rotates at supersonic speed to enrich uranium.
Of these, 3,772 centrifuges are actively enriching uranium under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Salehi said the new plants will be equipped with new generation centrifuges and the facilities would be hidde... >>>
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