The Iranian government approved a plan Sunday to build 10 industrial-scale uranium enrichment facilities, a dramatic expansion of the program in defiance of U.N. demands it halt enrichment.
The decision comes only days after the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency censured Iran over its program and demanded it halt the construction of a newly-revealed enrichment facility.
Iran's state news agency IRNA says the government ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to begin construction of five uranium enrichment sites that have already been studied and propose five other sites for future construction.
The decision was made during a Cabinet meeting headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Sunday evening, IRNA said.
The news came just two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demanded that Tehran immediately stop building its recently-revealed nuclear facility and freeze uranium enrichment.
The White House said the reports, if true, would mark "yet another serious violation" of Iran's obligations under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, and served as an example of the country isolating itself.
"The international community has made clear that Iran has rights, but with those rights come responsibilities," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "As the overwhelming IAEA board of governors vote made clear, time is running out for Iran to address the international community's growing concerns about its nuclear program."
The decision came the same day that Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani warned world powers not to force Tehran into scaling down its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"If you keep up this ludicrous carrot and stick policy, Iran will make 'new arrangements' in its interaction with the Agency," Larijani said in a parliamentary address.
The developments come as some Western powers, spearheaded by the U.S., have been pressuring Iran to accept a draft nuclear deal in which Iran's Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) would be shipped out of the country for further enrichment and returned to Iran to be used in Tehran's research reactor.
Iranian officials rejected the U.N. proposal, first floated by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, saying there are no guarantees that the country would in fact receive the fuel it requires for its non-military needs.
Tehran said it is ready to accept the nuclear swap if it takes place within its own borders.