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Iranian Secret Nuclear Plant Uncovered, U.S., Others Respond

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G20 Summit Iran. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Nicolas Sarkozy (France), Gordon Brown (Britain), Barack Obama (United States).

Drama: “Nuclear” edition:

PITTSBURGH — President Obama and the 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 Nicolas Sarkozy of France said that Iran had a 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. “The international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand.”

A major international crisis that has played the background thus far has now been catapulted to the forefront of issues facing President Obama and other world leaders.

Iran is definitely in a tougher position because their infractions against international law are now a lot more clear. The issue at hand is not necessarily the end-game intentions of their nuclear program, although Iran maintains that it’s purposed for peaceful, energy oriented goals rather than for nuclear weapons. What’s now being charged is that Iran is covertly manufacturing nuclear fuel, and actively hiding this operation from weapons inspectors.

It’s a charge that obviously strengthens the foundation on which the international community’s suspicions are founded. This is going to be very interesting moving forward. Today’s discovery is sort of a slap in the face to all parties engaging Iran in the 6-party talks this coming October, the first direct talks between the U.S. and Iran in about 30 years.  Even Russia and China appear to be unhappy. These two nations have played the role of obstructionist in the Security Council in all attemptes to levy sanctions against Iran, and in return, Iran has neglected to inform them of these “secret” plants, leaving them surprised. Reports indicate them Russia especially is furious.

President Ahmadinejad addressing the U.N. General Assembly.

President Ahmadinejad addressing the U.N. General Assembly.

The possibility of sanctions has increased greatly if the line in the sand drawn today by the United States, Britain, and France is defied. But sanctions are a secondary issue. The wild card here is clearly Israel. President Obama is going to have to work very hard behind closed doors to convince Israel not to preemptively attack Iran prior to sanctions being implemented. Now this goes under the assumption that such sanctions would even work. But it’s still important to make sure diplomacy is exhausted because the last thing the Middle East needs is additional military conflict to complicate matters.

This is clearly a pivotal point in this international issue. Iran’s president is, perhaps not unexpectedly, charging back with sharp rhetoric:

After Mr. Ahmadinejad asked Mr. Stengel to confirm the news, he criticized Mr. Obama for making the statement, which he called “a mistake,” and he claimed that the facility was not a secret, saying: “We have no secrecy; we work within the framework of the I.A.E.A.” Mr. Ahmadinejad also said that Mr. Obama’s charge just “adds to the list of issues to which the United States owes the Iranian nation an apology over.”

Cat and mouse continues…

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