During an interview with Time Magazine, President Ahmadinejad states that Iran complies with established IAEA procedures for disclosing nuclear sites. BBC broadcast of the interview clip can be accessed here. Later, speaking at a press conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York, he stated that the recently disclosed pilot enrichment facility at Qom is under construction and scheduled to be operational in about eighteen months. He went on to say:
"According to the IAEA rules, countries must inform the Agency 6 months ahead of the gas injection in their uranium enrichment plants. We have done it 18 months in advance, and this should be appreciated not condemned."
- President Ahmadinejad
Professor Stephen Walt at ForeignPolicy.com provides an explanation on the alleged "secrecy" issue:
According to the Washington Post, Iran notified the IAEA on September 21 that it was constructing a new pilot enrichment plant. Assuming that it has not already introduced nuclear material into this facility (and Tehran says it hasn't), Iran is therefore in compliance with the NPT's Comprehensive Full Scope Safeguards Agreement, which requires it to notify the IAEA six months before nuclear material is introduced into any new facility. Iran previously withdrew from the more demanding Subsidiary Agreement 3.1, which would have required more detailed and timely notification, in response to the IAEA's decision to refer Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council. So from Tehran's perspective, this new facility is not a violation at all: they are permitted to enrich under the NPT and they have complied with the Comprehensive Safeguards agreement by notifying the IAEA of the new facility. [emphasis added]
The United States response: unilateral withdrawal from Agreement 3.1 is not permissible, and so technically Iran is still in violation of its past commitments, but this legalistic back-and-forth is part of a long pattern. In addition, the U.N. Security Council has passed several resolutions demanding that Iran cease all enrichment, and its refusal to comply provides the main legal basis for sanctions. Iran is hardly the first country to ignore Security Council resolutions, however, and Tehran undoubtedly believes that the construction of a second plant is not a direct violation of its more basic obligations under the NPT.
What remains unclear is the West's assertion that the Qom site was under surveillance for years, but somehow was not brought to world attention during the Bush administration. The Bush administration certainly held little to no reservations on heaping a wide range of accusations upon the Islamic Republic. Why was this specific one supposedly held back? Also, the fact that it took the West four days from the time of Iran's disclosure to the IAEA, to make its grand "announcement" at the G-20 summit, tends to support the view that the opportunity was specifically selected in order to negatively impact Iran's recent disclosure.