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bushehr 311.(Photo by: AP)
'2 new nuclear sites this year'
Iranian atomic chief Salehi says building plans await Ahamedinejad's approval.
New nuclear facilities will be construction in Iran by the first half of the new year, Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi told ILNA on Saturday.

Salehi told the news agency that the construction of "one or two nuclear facilities ... in different parts of the country" was contingent on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's approval.

"Planning for nuclear facility construction is among the policies of the government to promote nuclear science in the country," Salehi was quoted as saying.

Earlier on Saturday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said new international sanctions over his country's nuclear program would only strengthen the country by helping make it more self-sufficient.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad also said US pressure on Iran had backfired and made Washington more isolated in the eyes of the world.

Faced with the prospect of new sanctions because of Iran's nuclear defiance, Ahmadinejad said that new penalties would only strengthen the country's technological advancement.

"Don't imagine that you can stop Iran's progress," Ahmadinejad said in remarks broadcast live on state television. "The more you reveal your animosity, the more it will increase our people's motivation to double efforts for construction and progress of Iran."

US President Barack Obama said Thursday that six world powers dealing with Iran's nuclear program will develop a package of serious new punitive measures over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment in coming weeks.

China has not confirmed US reports that it has dropped its opposition to possible new UN sanctions against Iran. China has veto power in the UN Security Council and its support would be key to passing a resolution against Iran.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, is in China in the hopes of winning assurances from Beijing that it will oppose sanctions.
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