IAEA may inspect new nuclear site: Iran president
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday his country's newly disclosed nuclear fuel facility was completely legal and open for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reuters reported.
The Iranian president said the United States, Britain and France would regret accusing Iran of trying to hide the site, which was revealed amid mounting international concern over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"We don't have any problems with (IAEA) inspections of the facility. We have no fears," he told a news conference in New York, where he was attending the U.N. General Assembly.
U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in Pittsburgh for a Group of 20 Summit, made a joint appearance on Friday to level the new charges against Iran.
Obama said Tehran had been building the nuclear plant in secret for years and urged it to take steps to address international concern that its nuclear program is geared toward making weapons rather than for peaceful uses.
Ahmadinejad said Iran's disclosure of the site to the IAEA on Monday was earlier than required, indicating that the plant would not begin first stages of operation for 18 months.
"It's not a secret site. If it was, why would we have informed the IAEA about it a year ahead of time," Ahmadinejad said. "They will regret this announcement."
The Iranian leader accused the Western powers of seeking to stack the table against Iran before an October 1 meeting between Iranian and Western negotiators to discuss the nuclear issue.
"They wanted to set up a sort of media game, take the stage to sort of set up the upper hand. This is not nice," he said. "This kind of behavior goes back to what was done in the past."
While Ahmadinejad said he was hopeful about the October meeting, he stressed Iran's position that it would not negotiate away its overall right to a nuclear program.
"U.S., Britain and France have no business questioning Iran about its nuclear program. We are a country like other countries," he said.
He said Iran needed enriched uranium for medical purposes, and was willing to buy it from any country that would sell.
A senior U.S. official, briefing reporters while Obama attended the G20 summit, said it appeared the Iranian facility was at least a few months from having all centrifuges installed and able to operate. The nascent plant was believed to be designed for about 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium.
The watchdog has asked Iran to provide access to and information about the plant, built inside a mountain around 100 miles southwest of Tehran, as soon as possible.