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President Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy make remarks about Iran prior to the morning plenary of the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit today (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Obama administration reportedly knew about the second secret Iranian uranium enrichment program prior to the United Nations meeting, yet the president chose to say nothing about the revelation, either during his address to the General Assembly or yesterday, when he chaired a Security Council session.
Since the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama has maintained his determination to engage in direct negotiations with Iran over the Iranian nuclear program.
A meeting between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia – plus Germany is scheduled for Oct. 1 in Geneva.
The success of that meeting is now called into question by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency’s announcement today confirming the existence of Iran’s new enrichment plant after receiving a letter from Iran Monday that confirmed the facility’s existence.
U.S. officials in Washington said Western governments have been aware of Iran’s second enrichment plant for some time and decided to reveal their intelligence assessments when the Iranians realized the plant’s secrecy was compromised, BBC News reported.
Obama first learned of the plant as president-elect, before his inauguration Jan. 20, the officials said.
That Obama said nothing about the second Iranian enrichment plant gave the impression the administration was surprised by the disclosure, as suggested by a top headline on the Drudge Report that proclaimed under a photo of Obama, “Caught by surprise: Iran has second nuke plant.”
Iran’s second nuclear facility is reportedly built underground on a military base near Qom and is capable of handling up to 3,000 centrifuges.
The National Security Council press office in the White House did not return a WND call asking why Obama did not mention the second enrichment plant in his U.N. addresses this week.
Yesterday, Obama proposed to the Security Council a resolution for world nuclear disarmament, in effect changing the subject from the possibility of further Security Council sanctions against Iran to efforts to control the nuclear weapons ambitions of North Korea.
Today, in a statement delivered at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, Obama stated that the disclosure of Iran’s second nuclear enrichment plant is “inconsistent with a peaceful nuclear program” and is further evidence that Iran is “breaking the rules” other nations follow.
Obama’s comments were restrained compared with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who accused Iran of “serial deception” and said the disclosure builds the case for imposing “further and more stringent” U.N. sanctions.
During the post-election protests in Iran, Obama was restrained in his condemnation of the Ahmadinejad regime and in demanding a new election be held under international inspection. The White House expressed concern that Iran would blame the U.S. for the protests if Obama made more forceful or direct statements of support for the demonstrators claiming the election was fraudulent.
Last week, before departing for the U.N. in New York, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a major address during the Annual Military Parade in Tehran marking the anniversary of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. Ahmadinejad threatened to “cut off” the hands of those who attack Iran, a direct reference to a possible pre-emptive military strike by Israel.
“No power dares to contemplate an invasion against Iran,” he said, according to the Times of London. “The Iranian nation will resist all invaders. Our armed forces will cut the hand off anyone in the world before it pulls the trigger against the Iranian nation.”
In the speech, Ahmadinejad announced a new generation of centrifuges was being installed at the uranium-enrichment plant in Natanz, according to UPI. Iran’s goal, he said, is to enrich uranium more than 2.5 times faster, which would boost the enrichment power tenfold.
The speech follows a Jerusalem Day address the week before in which Ahmadinejad repeated his assertion that the Holocaust was a lie.
The Iranian Air Force demonstrated at the Annual Military Parade in Tehran the introduction of the Russian-supplied TOR–M1 surface-to-air missile defense system that can intercept a fighter jet at an altitude of up to 20,000 feet.
The TOR–M1 mobile-launch system was delivered to Iran in 2007 and reportedly has been deployed at the nuclear reactor facility Russia is assisting Iran to build at Bushehr.
Israel has been working frantically to keep Russia from fulfilling a contract to deliver an even more sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system to Iran.
In New York for the U.N. meeting, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a “Today” show interview that Iran remains “the major terrorist-sponsoring state of our time.”
He further warned that a nuclear-armed Tehran would be in a position to “give those nuclear weapons to terrorists or give them a nuclear umbrella that would bring terrorism beyond our wildest dreams.”