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Clinton slams Iran on enrichment announcement

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration condemned Iran’s declared intention to launch uranium enrichment at a site it had kept secret until recently.

"This step once again demonstrates the Iranian regime’s blatant disregard for its responsibilities and that the country’s growing isolation is self-inflicted," said a statement Tuesday by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Iran only declared the Qom facility to the IAEA after it was discovered by the international community following three years of covert construction."

Obama revealed the existence of the facility near Qom, a holy city, in late 2009, forcing Iran to convey some of its particulars to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

Iran this week said it would activate centrifuges to enrich uranium to 20 percent, for medical research — all short of the 90 percent needed to manufacture nuclear bombs.

"We call upon Iran to immediately cease uranium enrichment and to comply with its international nuclear obligations," Clinton said in her statement.

The Obama administration in recent weeks launched an international initiative to further isolate Iran as a means of pressuring it to make transparent its suspected nuclear program.

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