PITTSBURGH — Presenting a unified front at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, President Obama, French President Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown delivered a sharp warning to Iran's government about what President Obama called "disturbing information" — a secret uranium enrichment facility Western intelligence agencies have discovered near Qom, 97 miles southwest of Tehran.
Calling the news "a challenge made to the entire international community," President Sarkozy said that "if by December there is not an in-depth change by the Iranian leaders, sanctions will have to be taken."
Brown said 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 whole international community and it will harden our resolve…We will not let this matter rest. And we are prepared to implement further and more stringent sanctions.
"Iran must abandon any military ambitions for its nuclear program," Brown said.
Yesterday in Vienna, President Obama said, officials from the United States, the United Kingdom and France presented detailed evidence to the International Atomic Energy Agency "demonstrating that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years."
President Obama said "the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program" and called its construction a "direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the nonproliferation regime. These rules are clear: All nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy, those nations with nuclear weapons must move toward disarmament, those nations without nuclear weapons must forsake them."
"Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow, endangering the global nonproliferation regime, denying its own people access to the opportunity they deserve, and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world," President Obama said.
Mr. Obama said the "existence of this facility underscores Iran's continuing unwillingness to meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions and IAEA requirements"; he and the other Western leaders said they expect the IAEA to investigate the facility — "an exhaustive, strict and rigorous investigation," Sarkozy said.
President Obama said that on October 1, when Iranian officials meet with representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the US, Russia, China, UK, and France — plus Germany, "Iran must be prepared to cooperate fully and comprehensively with the IAEA to take concrete steps to create confidence and transparency in its nuclear program, and to demonstrate that it is committed to establishing its peaceful intentions through meaningful dialogue and concrete actions."
On that day, Brown said, Iran must "join the international community as a partner. If it does not do so, it will be further isolated."
"Everything must be put on the table now," said Sarkozy. "We cannot let Iranian leaders gain time while the motors are running."