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Iran uranium enrichment would be further escalation: U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday that if Iran is enriching uranium to 20 percent at an underground facility at Fordow, this would be a "further escalation" of its pattern of violating its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, confirmed on Monday that Iran has started enriching uranium up to 20 percent at an underground site at Fordow, near the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom, and said all atomic material there was under its surveillance.

"The fact that the IAEA has made clear that they are enriching to a level that is inappropriate at Fordow is obviously a problem," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily briefing.

Nuland said the Vienna-based IAEA's assessment, previously reported by diplomats in Vienna, did not come as a surprise to the United States.

"If they are enriching at Fordow to 20 percent, this is a further escalation of their ongoing violations with regard to their nuclear obligations," Nuland said, referring to a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to halt its enrichment-related activities.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Eric Beech and Sandra Maler)

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