"The Iranian government's decision to begin uranium enrichment at the Qom-Fordo plant is cause for deep concern and deserving of the firmest condemnation." The statement came from foreign ministry spokesperson Maurizio Massari, according to whom "Tehran is unfortunately demonstrating its intention to move in the opposite direction to that recommended in the IAEA and United Nations resolutions."
"At this point," Massari continued, "pressure on Iran through tighter sanctions aimed at depriving Teheran of the means to continue nuclear activities that defy international law is inevitable."
"In response to Iran's persistent refusal to accept the international community's proposals of dialogue," Massari concluded, "Italy, along its principal European and international partners, will support the adoption of harsh and effective sanctions."
Confirmation that Iran has embarked on uranium enrichment at the Fordo site comes from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA said that "Iran has begun uranium enrichment up to 20% at its Fordo site, using IR-1 centrifuges." IAEA spokesperson Gill Tudor added that the Agency will continue to monitor all the nuclear material at the site.
The European Union reiterated its grave concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme and is preparing stronger sanctions against Iran. This news was given by Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson of the head of EU diplomacy, Catherine Ashton. She pointed out that Europe remains open to a resumption of negotiations without any preconceived position on the part of Iran, which has not yet replied to the letter sent in October 2011. The question of sanctions will be the focus of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which has been brought forward to 23 January 2012.