Iran's nuclear enrichment plans unacceptable: U.S.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington in this September 28, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran’s plans to build 10 nuclear enrichment plants are unacceptable and may lead the international community to ratchet up the pressure on Tehran to halt the program, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations said on Monday.

“We view the Iranian announcement, if it is in fact accurate and implemented, that they intend to build 10 additional facilities as completely inappropriate and further isolating Iran from the international community,” Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters.

Iran announced on Sunday that it intends to build 10 uranium enrichment plants in a major expansion of its atomic program, just two days after the U.N. nuclear watchdog rebuked it for carrying out such work in secret.

Rice made clear that Washington was quickly losing patience and would begin pressing for new sanctions against the Islamic Republic for rejecting U.N. Security Council demands that it freeze all of its enrichment activity.

“As the indications mount that Iran is not yet in a position to take up the very concrete and constructive offers that have been put to it by the (six world powers) and by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) ... it seems more likely that we will be on the pressure track,” she said.

Rice said time was short and the United States was “serious about implementing to the fullest extent that dual-track policy” of combining offers of incentives with the threat of sanctions.

She reiterated that U.S. President Barack Obama had given Tehran until the end of the year to reply to an offer from the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia for economic and political incentives in exchange for suspending its enrichment program.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Bill Trott