Iran is building 'secret' N-plant

Obama wants Tehran to allow IAEA to inspect facility for producing fuel

US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders on Friday accused Iran of building a secret nuclear fuel plant. They said Tehran should immediately halt work on the plant, which they called a “direct challenge” to the international community.

Obama went public with the charge in a joint appearance with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh, sharpening a standoff with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.

The UN nuclear watchdog said earlier on Friday that Iran had just told it of a second uranium enrichment plant under construction, a belated disclosure sure to heighten Western fears of an Iranian bid for nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran—which insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes to generate electricity—had disclosed the existence of the plant to IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei on Monday.

The disclosure, extending a history of Tehran withholding sensitive nuclear plans from the UN nonproliferation inspectors, gave grist to Western calls to consider tougher UN sanctions against Iran ahead of October 1 talks with six world powers. A US official said the nascent plant was believed to be designed for about 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium.

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