Obama takes new, harder line on Iran

The president talks tough after news of an additional Iranian uranium enrichment facility

Topics: Barack Obama, Iran, War Room, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, British Election, Middle East,

President Obama, joined by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, announced to the world Friday morning that Iran has a secret uranium enrichment facility that it’s hidden from weapons inspectors for years.

He didn’t sound happy about it.

American intelligence has reportedly known about the facility for some time; the decision to reveal it came because, the New York Times says, “Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the complex.” The country has since officially acknowledged the existence of the plant.

From Obama’s statement:

Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime. These rules are clear: All nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; those nations with nuclear weapons must move towards disarmament; those nations without nuclear weapons must forsake them. That compact has largely held for decades, keeping the world far safer and more secure. And that compact depends on all nations living up to their responsibilities.

This site deepens a growing concern that Iran is refusing to live up to those international responsibilities, including specifically revealing all nuclear-related activities. As the international community knows, this is not the first time that Iran has concealed information about its nuclear program. Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear power that meets the energy needs of its people. But the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program. Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow — endangering the global non-proliferation regime, denying its own people access to the opportunity they deserve, and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world.

It is time for Iran to act immediately to restore the confidence of the international community by fulfilling its international obligations. We remain committed to serious, meaningful engagement with Iran to address the nuclear issue through the P5-plus-1 negotiations. Through this dialogue, we are committed to demonstrating that international law is not an empty promise; that obligations must be kept; and that treaties will be enforced.

And that’s why there’s a sense of urgency about the upcoming meeting on October 1st between Iran, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and Germany. At that meeting, 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.

To put it simply: Iran must comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and make clear it is willing to meet its responsibilities as a member of the community of nations. We have offered Iran a clear path toward greater international integration if it lives up to its obligations, and that offer stands. But the Iranian government must now demonstrate through deeds its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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