Iran accused of building secret nuclear facility

President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain will accuse Iran on Friday of building a secret facility to produce nuclear fuel, The New York Times reported.

Senior administration officials told the Times that the three leaders would make the announcement in Pittsburgh before the opening of the G-20 economic summit. Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will demand Tehran open the covert facility up to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran has kept the facility, 100 miles southwest of Tehran, hidden from international weapons inspectors for years, but the U.S. has long known of its existence, the Times said.

Obama decided to go public with the revelation after Iran learned that Western intelligence agencies were aware of the project.

Officials told the Times that the plant could be in operation by next year.

Meanwhile, a diplomat in Vienna and another European government official told The Associated Press on Friday that Tehran has informed the IAEA that it has a previously undeclared uranium enriching facility.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was confidential, said Iran revealed its existence in a letter sent Monday to Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the atomic energy agency.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made no mention of the facility this week while attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York, but said that his country had fully cooperated with international nuclear inspectors.

Administration officials said the disclosure would make it easier to make the case for imposing sanctions if Iran blocks inspections or refuses to quit its nuclear program.

“They have cheated three times,” a senior White House official told the Times. “And now they have been caught three times.”