US, UK and France tell Iran to open nuke site
At G-20 summit, US President Obama publicly demands Iran open secret nuclear fuel facility to international inspectors, says site 'deepens a growing concern' that Iran has failed to live up to international obligations. France's Sarkozy sets December deadline saying, 'Everything must be put on the table', UK's Brown says it's time 'to draw line in the sand'. Iranian source later denies plant was covert
The leaders of the US, Britain and France demanded Friday that Iran fully disclose its nuclear ambitions "or be held accountable" to an impatient world community. They threatened new sanctions after the disclosure of a secret Iranian nuclear facility.
"Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow," US President Barack Obama said in the opening moments of the G-20 economic summit.
"Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear power that meets the energy needs of its people. But the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program. Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow - endangering the global non-proliferation regime, denying its own people access to the opportunity they deserve, and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world," he continued.
"The Iranian government must now demonstrate through deeds its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law," Obama said.
In setting the December deadline, Sarkozy said, "Everything, everything must be put on the table now."
Sarkozy and Brown struck a more defiant tone than their US counterpart.
"The level of deception by the Iranian government ... will shock and anger the whole international community, and it will harden our resolve," Brown declared, adding that it's time "to draw a line in the sand."
The leaders were reacting to the public disclosure of a new Iranian nuclear facility.
Iran has kept the facility, 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Tehran, hidden from weapons inspectors, but the US has long known of its existence, a senior White House official told the Associated Press. Obama decided to go public with the revelation after Iran learned that Western intelligence agencies were aware of the project, the official said before the joint statement.
The officials spoke on grounds of anonymity so as not to pre-empt Obama.
Obama and Brown at G-20 summit (Photo: Reuters)
Meanwhile, speaking on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was very worried about Iran's construction of a second uranium enrichment plant.
"Germany is very worried...We demand that Iran provides all the information to the international atomic authority," she said.
Obama hopes the disclosure will increase pressure on the global community to impose new sanctions on Iran if it refuses to stop its nuclear program.
Beyond sanctions, the leaders' options are limited and perilous; military action by the United States or an ally such as Israel could set off a dangerous chain of events in the Islamic world.
In addition, Iran's facilities are spread around the country and well hidden, making an effective military response difficult.
The disclosure comes on the heels of a UN General Assembly meeting at which Obama saw a glimmer of success in his push to rally the world against Iranian nuclear ambitions. And it comes days before Iran and six world powers are scheduled to discuss a range of issues including Tehran's nuclear program.
The US has long avoided direct talks with Tehran over its nuclear program.
Following Obama's address to the G-20 summit, a senior Iranian official told Reuters accusations that a second uranium enrichment plant under construction was clandestine are "not true".
"If it was a covert plant, we would not have informed the (International Atomic Energy) Agency," the official said.
Reuters contributed to this report