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26/09/2009 US President Barack Obama said that if Iran could not be persuaded to "come clean" about its nuclear program via diplomacy, the US will consider other options.
Speaking at a press conference at the conclusion of a G-20 summit, Obama said that, "When we find that diplomacy does not work, we will be in a much stronger position to, for example, apply sanctions that have bite. That's not the preferred course of action. I would love nothing more than to see Iran choose the responsible path."
Obama joined the leaders of Britain and France in accusing the Islamic Republic of clandestinely building an underground plant to make nuclear fuel that could be used to build an atomic bomb.
"Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow. The size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program," the American president said.
Iranian officials however acknowledged the facility but insisted it had been reported to nuclear authorities as required.
Asked about the prospect of using military force to stop Iran from getting the bomb, Obama said: "With respect to the military, I've always said that we do not rule out any options when it comes to US security interests, but I will also re-emphasize that my preferred course of action is to resolve this in a diplomatic fashion. It's up to the Iranians to respond."
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday that Israel "will not dare attack Iran" and that if Israel does, "the Iranians can defend themselves."
"We are not concerned about an Israeli attack. Iran is a very big country. Much larger and bigger than what some people think and imagine," Ahmadinejad told a news conference.
Ahmadinejad's statement came hours after he said the United States, Britain and France would "regret" accusing Iran of hiding a nuclear fuel facility, saying it was not a secret site.
Ahmadinejad, speaking at a New York news conference, said Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency early about the facility.
"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 the United States, Britain and France will regret this announcement."
The statement came after Ahmadinejad said Iran was not obliged to tell the Obama administration of every uranium enrichment plant it has.
"This does not mean we must inform Mr. Obama's administration of every facility that we have," he told Time magazine in an interview when asked about Obama's charge that a nuclear fuel plant had been built secretly.
"We have no secrecy, we work within the framework of the IAEA," Ahmadinejad told Time in a reference to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"We are counting on Iran - particularly in light of the newly revealed information about the construction of a new enrichment plant - to provide convincing evidence of its intention to seek to develop nuclear energy with purely peaceful aims," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in the statement. However, he did not mention sanctions or any other consequences Iran could face “if it refuses to fall in line.”
China responded to news of the secret neactor by saying that they hope Iran "will cooperate with the IAEA on this matter."
Egypt's foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in an interview Friday with the Associated Press that Iran has a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy but it must be verified by the UN nuclear agency.
Aboul Gheit said Israel is assumed to possess nuclear weapons, and if Iran is also acquiring a nuclear capability many countries in the Middle East would be uneasy, triggering an arms race.