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Iran weighs sites for uranium enrichment plants, official says

The reactor of Bushehr nuclear power plant at the Iranian port town of Bushehr.
The reactor of Bushehr nuclear power plant at the Iranian port town of Bushehr.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iranian official: "Close to 20 locations have been chosen and presented to President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad."
  • Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization: "God willing," construction will start
  • Ali Akbar Salehi said: "We plan to use new centrifuges at these two plants"
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Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iran has picked potential sites for uranium enrichment plants and could begin planning for two of them this year, an Iranian nuclear energy official said Monday.

"Close to 20 locations have been chosen and presented to President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad. However, these are all potential locations," Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization told the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency.

"God willing, next (Iranian) year, we will ... start the construction of two uranium enrichment plants," Salehi said.

The next Iranian year begins in March.

"We plan to use new centrifuges at these two plants," Salehi said.

The president will "have more good news" on the types of centrifuges used, according to Salehi.

Iran says its nuclear program is necessary to provide civilian energy, but other countries have voiced concern that its true purpose is to produce weapons.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for sanctions to curtail Iran's oil exports.

"We are at the point where the international community has to decide whether it is serious about stopping Iran," Netanyahu said in a speech.

"If it is serious about stopping Iran, then what it needs to do is not watered-down sanctions, moderate sanctions ... but efficient binding sanctions that curtail the import and export of oil into and out of Iran."

The United States and its allies have urged the United Nations to impose new sanctions on Iran over its enrichment plans.

Last week, Iran's supreme leader said the Islamic republic does not believe in pursuing nuclear bombs.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the remarks Friday, a day after a draft report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Iran may be working secretly to develop a nuclear warhead for a missile.

"Iran will not get emotional in its response to these nonsensical statements, because we have often said that our religious tenets and beliefs consider these kinds of weapons of mass destruction to be symbols of genocide and are, therefore, forbidden," the supreme leader said.

 
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