TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Iran said it plans to build 10 uranium-enrichment plants, drawing sharp international criticism and fueling fears the country wants to build a nuclear weapon.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday construction would begin on five of the new nuclear facilities within two months, The Washington Post reported.
The announcement comes days after the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Organization, censured Iran for its refusal to stop uranium enrichment.
The IAEO had called on Iran to immediately stop enrichment at a site near the city of Qum, which western leaders discovered in the fall.
Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program is for energy. But western countries believe Tehran hopes to develop a nuclear weapon.
Iran's plans "would be yet another serious violation of Iran's clear obligations under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and another example of Iran choosing to isolate itself," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday.
"Time is running out for Iran to address the international community's growing concerns about its nuclear program."
Iran's newest nuclear activities could lead to further sanctions by the U.N., the Post said.
Some portrayed Iran's latest threat as a largely symbolic act of defiance, and one expert questioned whether the country could even build 10 nuclear-enrichment plants.
"They don't have the capability; they'd like to have it," David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and National Security in Washington, told The New York Times. "You have to look under the surface. They're mad about the IAEA resolution. It's playground behavior in a way."