The Obama Administration made a bombshell revelation on the eve of the G-20 summit about Iran's continued lying about its nuclear program. Anonymous "American officials" disclosed to the New York Times that U.S. intelligence agencies had uncovered another secret Iranian nuclear facility that Iran had failed to divulge to the International Atomic Energy Agency as required under its nuclear safeguard commitments.
The secret facility reportedly is a uranium enrichment plant capable of housing 3,000 centrifuges that is built inside a mountain about 100 miles south of Tehran near the city of Qum. The American officials noted that they had been tracking the construction of the facility for years but decided to reveal it only after the Iranian government had discovered that its secret had been compromised. Tehran tried to cover its tracks by notifying the IAEA of the existence of the facility in a cursory letter on Monday, but it was required to do so before construction began.
This revelation underscores Tehran's continued duplicity on the nuclear issue and further undermines the Obama Administration's engagement strategy regarding Iran.
It is now clear, if it wasn't before, that the P5&1 talks that are set to begin on October 1 are likely to be stillborn. As long as Iran clings to its hollow denials of its increasingly transparent nuclear ambitions there is no chance of a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear issue. Strong and effective international sanctions are urgently required to stem Tehran's nuclear progress. But although the leaders of Britain,France, and the U.S. pledged to step up pressure on Iran in statements issued today, it remains unclear whether Russia and China will cooperate with this diplomatic offensive. In the past, the two have acted as Iran's lawyers to block or dilute sanctions resolutions at the U.N. Security Council.
If Iran can not be diplomatically dissuaded from continuing its nuclear weapons program, then the chances of an Israeli preventive strike against Iranian facilities will rise substantially. Such a strike probably could only delay, but not destroy, the Iranian nuclear program. But regardless of what Israel decides to do, today's revelations about the Iranian nuclear program are another strong indication that the United States and its allies soon will face the prospect of a nuclear Iran.
For an analysis of the implications of Iran's drive for nuclear weapons, see: Iran's Nuclear Threat: The Day After [PDF]
For more on Iran, see: Iran Briefing Room