VIENNA – Iran has revealed the existence of a secret uranium-enrichment plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday, a development that could heighten fears about Tehran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon and escalate its diplomatic confrontation with the West.
President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain 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 follows,” Obama said in the opening moments of the G-20 economic summit….
Two officials told the AP that Iran revealed the existence of the second plant in a letter sent Monday to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire confirmed receipt of the letter, saying the agency was informed “that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction.” The letter said that the plant would not enrich uranium beyond the 5 percent level suitable for civilian energy production. That would be substantially below the threshold of 90 percent or more needed for a weapon.”
Iranian leaders reportedly revealed existence of the plant only after learning that Western intelligence was onto them. The discovery of such blatant cheating by Iran may force countries such as Russia and China to finally show their hand regarding sanctions against Iran. And given the Iranian government’s precarious grip on power, the power of those sanctions to force change may never be greater.