MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Today Iran said that its decision to build 10 more uranium enrichment plants is a direct response to a resolution passed Friday at the International Atomic Energy Agency. That resolution criticized Iran for its secret nuclear activities. The plan for 10 facilities emerged from a cabinet meeting in Tehran held on Sunday. The grandiose scheme is perhaps more threat than possibility. Tensions were already high, but as NPR's Mike Shuster reports, they're now even higher.
MIKE SHUSTER: Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. called the announcement unacceptable, adding, the Obama administration sees an alternative to engagement.
SUSAN RICE: As Iran makes choices that seem to indicate that it is not at this stage ready and willing to take up the offers on the engagement track, then we will put greater emphasis on the pressure track.
SHUSTER: Reaction in Europe was equally unfavorable. The French foreign minister called it a bit childish, but said Iran is playing an extremely dangerous game. The British foreign secretary accused Iran of provocation and dissembling. There's already talk of new and harsher economic sanctions to come against Iran. On Sunday after meeting with his cabinet, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that not only would Iran refuse to curtail its uranium enrichment, now it intends to expand that capacity dramatically.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: (Through Translator) We require multiple sites to produce nuclear fuel, Ahmadinejad said, at least 10 new sites. We must begin working on five sites now and offer locations for five others with all the required facilities.
SHUSTER: The director of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, said the new facilities would be built inside mountains to protect them from attack.
ALI AKBAR SALEHI: Still, the world needs to take Iran's intentions seriously, says Mitchell Reiss, dean of international studies at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
MITCHELL REISS: I think it speaks again to a longer term threat or intention on the part of the Iranian regime that they will not be deterred. They will not acquiesce, at least at this point, to what the Western powers have put on the table. It's now up to the United States to take the lead in crafting a much tougher response.
SHUSTER: Mike Shuster, NPR News.
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