The New York Times reports that U.S. President Obama and the leaders of UK and France will accuse Iran of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying the country has hidden the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years, according to senior administration officials.
The revelation, which the three leaders will make before the opening of the Group of 20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, appears bound to add urgency to the diplomatic confrontation with Iran over its suspected ambitions to build a nuclear weapons capacity. Mr. Obama, along with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, will demand 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.
U.S. 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. In a statement from its headquarters in Vienna yesterday, the atomic agency confirmed that it had been told by Iran that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country.