President Obama and leaders of Britain and France accused Iran on Friday of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying the country has hidden the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years.
Appearing before reporters in Pittsburgh, Mr. Obama said that the Iranian nuclear program “represents a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the nonproliferation regime.” President Nicholas Sarkozy of France, appearing beside Mr. Obama, said that Iran had deadline of two months to comply with international demands or face increased sanctions.
“The level of deception by the Iranian government, and the scale of what we believe is the breach of international commitments, will shock and anger the entire international community,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain said, standing on the other side of Mr. Obama. “The international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand.”
The extraordinary and hastily arranged joint appearance by the three leaders — and Mr. Obama said that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany had asked him to convey that she stood with them as well — adds urgency to the diplomatic confrontation with Iran over its suspected ambition to build a nuclear weapons capacity. The three men demanded that Iran allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct an immediate inspection of the facility, which is said to be 100 miles southwest of Tehran.
American officials said that they had been tracking the covert project for years, but that Mr. Obama decided to make public the American findings after Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the project. On Monday, Iran wrote a brief, cryptic letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that it now had a “pilot plant” under construction, whose existence it had never before revealed. NYT
David Gregory says this is why yesterday Russia agreed that sanctions against Iran may be necessary.