Barack Obama is now getting his first major new foreign policy test with the big news that Iran has now upped the ante with its admission that is has a secret uranium enrichment facility.
Obama had tough words for Iran:
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Friday that Iran admitted the existence of the “new pilot fuel enrichment plant,” prompting Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to respond at the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime,” Obama said, with Brown and Sarkozy standing at his side. Video Watch world leaders react to Iran »
“The size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program,” Obama said.
Obama said the three countries presented “detailed evidence” to the IAEA on Thursday that showed Iran “has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years.”
They demanded an immediate investigation into the facility and threatened a stiff response if Iran fails to conform to international obligations regarding nuclear development.
Iran’s admission comes ahead of next week’s rare meeting between Iran and the five permanent United Nations Security Council members, plus Germany. The October 1 meeting will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, according to Iran’s government funded Press TV.
Iran’s revelation of a new nuclear site could actually “strengthen their hand” as Tehran heads into next week’s talks, according to Paul Ingram, an analyst who studies Iran and nuclear non-proliferation.
“It will be seen as an indication that they are willing to play by the rules,” said Ingram, the executive director of the British American Security Information Council in London, England.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned President Barack Obama against pressing Tehran about new revelations that Iran has been constructing a secret uranium-enrichment plant. “If I were Obama’s adviser, I would definitely advise him to refrain making this statement because it is definitely a mistake,” Ahmadinejad told TIME in New York on Friday. “It would definitively be a mistake.” His comment came as President Obama, speaking at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, made a dramatic announcement that Iran has been constructing a second uranium-enrichment facility whose existence had been kept secret in violation of the non-proliferation agreements to which Tehran is a signatory.
For a good, detailed roundup of these events be sure to read Ed Morrissey.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.