(CNN) -- Iran's Cabinet has authorized the construction of another 10 uranium enrichment plants, its state news agency announced Sunday, further defying international calls to halt its production of nuclear fuel.
The Iranian Cabinet approved existing plans for five more facilities similar to its current plant at Natanz and ordered planning for five more to begin, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The dispatch quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that the new plants will be used to produce fuel for civilian nuclear power stations.
The move comes two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, passed a resolution demanding that Iran stop construction on a previously secret nuclear facility at Qom.
The proximity to Qom is significant on more than one level: first, it reflects Ahmadinejad's obsession with the return of the Mahdi according to the Shi'ite tradition. But also, if Western powers were to attack the nuclear site, any collateral damage would be trumpeted as an act of brazen "Islamophobia" and used to drum up outrage and calls for revenge from Iran and the broader Islamic world.
The IAEA also repeated calls for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program. The agency said it would not comment on Sunday's announcement.
Iran has said its uranium enrichment program is aimed at producing fuel for civilian power plants. But the United States and other countries have accused Tehran of working toward a nuclear bomb, and the IAEA's Friday resolution stated that Iran's refusal to comply with international demands "does not contribute to the building of confidence."
Nor does the IAEA's track record of minimal, largely symbolic action.