WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Thursday slammed Iran's plan to install new centrifuges at its main enrichment facility in Natanz, calling it "a further escalation" over its disputed nuclear program.
"The installation of new advanced centrifuges is a further escalation and a continuing violation ... of Iran's obligations" under the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
"It would mark yet another provocative step by Iran and will only invite further isolation by the international community," Carney warned at a regular news briefing.
Iran informed the IAEA last week that it would install more advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility, just as the Islamic republic has been engaged in discussions about resuming talks with Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany, the so-called P5+1, over its nuclear project.
Three rounds of talks were held last year between the two sides but no breakthrough was made. Washington has set a March deadline for Iran to begin "substantive cooperation" with the IAEA or face the UN Security Council.
The UN Security Council and Western powers have imposed crippling sanctions on Iran over the years over its refusal to stop its uranium enrichment activities, while Iran insists on the peaceful nature of the program.
"That pressure will continue, and it will increase, as long as Tehran refuses to live up to its international obligations with regards to its nuclear program," Carney said.
"We continue to believe that there is time and space for diplomacy to work, but actions like this undercut the efforts of the international community to resolve its concerns over Iran's nuclear weapons," he added.