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Obama issues ultimatum to Iran on nukes

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[September 26, 2009]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- Not letting up on Iran, President Barack Obama said Saturday that the Islamic republic must take action to demonstrate its peaceful intentions after the discovery of a covert nuclear facility or it will be held accountable by the world's nations.

RestaurantIn his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said that evidence showing Iran building an underground plant to enrich uranium that could be used for an atomic bomb "continues a disturbing pattern of Iranian evasion" that jeopardizes global nonproliferation.

He urged Tehran once again to open the site to international inspectors, or face consequences. The chief option is tougher economic sanctions, but on Friday Obama and administration officials did not rule out military action.

"My offer of a serious, meaningful dialogue to resolve this issue remains open," Obama said. "But Iran must now cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and take action to demonstrate its peaceful intentions."

"Iran's leaders must now choose - they can live up to their responsibilities and achieve integration with the community of nations. Or they will face increased pressure and isolation, and deny opportunity to their own people."

Evidence of the clandestine facility was unveiled Friday by Obama and the leaders of Britain and France at the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, where it overshadowed developments on regulating financial markets and reducing fossil fuel subsidies.

Soon after, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, at his own news conference, urged Iran to cooperate, as did Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei. He, however, did not endorse sanctions against the country.

"On this, the international community is more united than ever before ... that Iran must fulfill its responsibilities," Obama said.

Iran, so far, hasn't budged.

At a news conference in New York, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country had done nothing wrong and Obama would regret his actions.

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Ahmadinejad said the plant - which Iranian officials say was reported to nuclear authorities as required - wouldn't be operational for 18 months. But he sidestepped a question about whether Iran had sufficient uranium to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

The head of Iran's nuclear program suggested that U.N. inspectors may be allowed to visit the site. Ali Akbar Salehi called the incomplete facility "a semi-industrial plant for enriching nuclear fuel," but he gave no other details, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Obama, and other world leaders, will be looking to see where Iran stands next week during a meeting of major nations on the nuclear issue.

Obama said Saturday the negotiations have taken on added urgency.


On the Net:

Obama: http://www.whitehouse.gov

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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