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Unplugged: Obama Wanted To Beat Iran to Punch

The United States moved to accuse Iran of allegedly harboring a covert, underground uranium enrichment facility this morning in order to "beat Iran to the punch," CBS News Pentagon correspondent David Martin said on "Washington Unplugged" Friday.

The clandestine facility, Martin said, "is big enough to hold about 3,000 centrifuges. That number is important because 3,000 centrifuges is not remotely enough to produce enough enriched uranium for a power plant, which is the stated purpose for Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities."

"It is enough," Martin said, "for about one bomb a year. So this is very suggestive, even convincing evidence that Iran did have and does have a secret plan to build for the making of nuclear weapons."

The Pentagon reporter said that the United States had been apparently "tracking the site for years" and that by the beginning of 2009 they have evidence to conclude that this was a secret enrichment facility.

The timing of the announcement, Martin said, was based on the fact that Iran "found out that the U.S. knew about this facility and rushed to the International Atomic Energy agency to disclose it" so they could not be accused of breaking the law.

"The U.S. wanted to beat Iran to the punch," he concluded of the hastily planned press conference in Pittsburgh this morning, where Presidents Obama and Sarkozy as well as Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the Iranian state for harboring the covert facility.

Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Fariborz Ghadar told moderator Kimberly Dozier, "once again, Iran got caught cheating."

Ghadar predicted that Iran would start taking "baby steps" towards halting their uranium enrichment programs. He said it was unlikely that Iran would take large enough steps to keep free of additional sanctions.

Martin concluded that the "exposure of this plan puts off any consideration of any nuclear action…this makes the prospect of military action in the near term less likely."

Watch the full show above. "Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

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