Iran’s decision on Sunday to construct 10 more uranium enrichment plants was taken in response to Friday’s resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) asking Tehran to freeze immediately, work on its new uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom, said a top Iranian official.

“We had no plan to build many nuclear sites like [enrichment facility in the central city of] Natanz but it seems that the West do not want to comprehend Iran’s message of peace,” said head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEO), Ali-Akbar Salehi.

“The West adopted an attitude towards Iran which made the Iranian government to pass the ratification on construction of ten sites similar to the Natanz enrichment facility,” Iran’s state-run Press TV quoted Mr. Salehi as saying.

On Sunday, IRIB television reported that AEO, in accordance with a decree, will start the construction at five new uranium enrichment sites. It will recommend the location of five other plants within two months.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during his address to a Cabinet session that Iranian nuclear power plants should eventually generate up to 20,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. To achieve this target, Iran should have an annual capacity to produce 250 to 300 tonnes of nuclear fuel, coupled with an installation of 500,000 new high-performance centrifuges.

According to the daily Tehran Times, the Cabinet will soon take a decision on an option to enrich uranium to 20 per cent purity.

Presently, Iran produces Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) to a less than five per cent level. Mr. Ahmadinejad declared that the Cabinet would study during a meeting on Wednesday, the option to produce nuclear fuel with a purity of 20 percent for the Tehran research reactor.

Mr. Salehi explained that the five new sites would be “constructed in the heart of mountains” so that they are “protected from any attack.”

He noted that each site will supply fuel for a facility as large as Bushehr, which is currently being built with Russian help.

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