"Iran was supposed to inform us on the day it was decided to construct the facility. They have not done that," IAEA's Mohammed ElBaradei told CNN-IBN in an interview published Wednesday. "They are saying that this was meant to be a back-up facility in case we were attacked and so they could not tell us earlier on."
Saying Iran's been on "the wrong side of the law" regarding informing the IAEA, based in Vienna, about construction, news of the facility near Qom "has created great concern in the international community," ElBaradei said.
Last week, Iran wrote a letter to the IAEA, telling the United Nations' nuclear watchdog about the existence of the facility. The admission prompted President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain and France to criticize Iran and threaten further sanctions. They said the construction had been going on for some time before Iran told the IAEA.
Iran has maintained its nuclear enrichment program is for peaceful purposes, but the international community has accused the Islamic republic of trying to develop nuclear weapons capability.
Iranian officials said no nuclear material is at the site. They also said IAEA inspectors could inspect the facility, but did not say when.
Iran's nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and representatives of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany were scheduled to meet Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland.