Iran says it will allow uranium inspections
SAN FRANCISCO — As world pressure mounted Saturday, Iran said it would allow United Nations inspectors to examine its newly revealed, second uranium-enrichment facility, according to media reports.
The move came after U.S. President Barack Obama used his Saturday radio address to call on Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and media reports later in the day suggested. Obama would demand Iran submit to an inspection within three weeks.
Iran has claimed the facilities are for peaceful purposes, but Western nations have said they feared Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran’s capitulation on the inspection demand first was reported by The Associated Press.
The White House responded by urging complete and immediate cooperation with the IAEA, the AP reported.
On Friday, Western intelligence and diplomatic officials revealed the existence of the second site, in the mountains near the holy city of Qom, hidden in an underground facility controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Earlier Saturday, Obama said the international community, including all of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany, have “made it clear that Iran must fulfill its responsibilities.”
His radio speech came after American, British, and French officials on Friday at the G20 summit declassified some of their most closely held intelligence about Iran’s uranium-enrichment plant deep inside a mountain.
The U.S. was informed by the IAEA on Tuesday that Iran had sent a cryptic letter describing a nuclear facility buried in a mountain outside the city of Qom, the New York Times reported in its online edition.
American intelligence had already come across the facility years earlier, in a multiyear covert effort to track Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Times reported.
The White House decided to go public on Friday, seeing the revelation as a chance to persuade other countries to support the case for stronger sanctions, according to the Times.
The disclosure led to a rare Russian rebuke of Iran, and a modest warning from China.
In Saturday’s speech, Obama reiterated Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s support for Iran to comply with the IAEA probe of its nuclear efforts.
“Medvedev of Russia and I agreed that Iran must pursue a new course or face consequences,” he said. “I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our European allies in condemning Iran’s program.
Iran’s leaders “can live up to their responsibilities and achieve integration with the community of nations,” he added. “Or they will face increased pressure and isolation, and deny opportunity to their own people.”
The speech came ahead of a meeting between Iran and six major world powers over the nuclear dispute. Tehran has insisted it is pursuing a nuclear program to generate energy.
The U.S., the U.K. and France have insisted Iran must allow visits to the nuclear site. They are also considering economic sanctions to press Iran to stop seeking nuclear weapons. China has expressed its opposition to sanction.