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Armed with the disclosure of a secret Iranian nuclear facility, the leaders of France, the UK, and the U.S. demanded Sept. 25 that Tehran fully disclose its nuclear ambitions ''or be held accountable'' to an impatient world community.
CA Online and wire services
PITTSBURGH — Armed with the disclosure of a secret Iranian nuclear facility, the leaders of France, the UK, and the U.S. demanded September 25 that Tehran fully disclose its nuclear ambitions "or be held accountable" to an impatient world community.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Iran has until December to comply or face new sanctions. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused Iran of "serial deception." U.S. President Obama said that "Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow."
The dramatic joint statement of three leaders opened the G-20 economic summit. Obama urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to investigate the site.
Iran has kept the facility, 100 miles southwest of Tehran, hidden from weapons inspectors, but the U.S. has long known of its existence, a senior White House official said. Obama decided to go public with the revelation after Iran learned that Western intelligence agencies were aware of the project, the official said before the joint statement.
President Obama hopes the disclosure will increase pressure on the global community to impose new sanctions on Iran if it refuses to stop its nuclear program. Beyond sanctions, the leaders' options are limited and perilous; military action could set off a dangerous chain of events in the Islamic world.
In addition, Iran's facilities are spread around the country and well hidden, making an effective military response difficult.
"The Iranian government must now demonstrate through deeds its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law," Obama said.
In setting the December deadline, Sarkozy said, "Everything, everything must be put on the table now."
Sarkozy and Brown struck a more defiant tone than their U.S. counterpart.
"The level of deception by the Iranian government... will shock and anger the whole international community, and it will harden our resolve," Brown declared, adding that it's time "to draw a line in the sand."
Just hours before the joint appearance, a diplomat in Vienna and another European government official revealed that Tehran informed the IAEA in a letter sent September 21 of a previously undeclared uranium enriching facility.