Intelligence officials: Iran has nearly finished a nuclear enrichment plant
The installation of the last centrifuges at Fordo represents a milestone for the Iranians that the Obama administration hoped to avoid. In September 2009, Mr. Obama, along with the leaders of Britain and France, revealed the existence of the site, in an effort to galvanize international efforts to stop Iran’s program. His top national security aides predicted that the public exposure would force Iran to abandon the plant.
While that did not happen, a senior administration official said Thursday that the exposure of the plant’s existence three years ago “eliminated its use as a ‘sneak out’ venue,” because it forced Iran to allow inspectors inside the facility. “Sneak out” is a phrase that connotes covert production of bomb fuel, while “break out” is used to describe a race for a bomb. Mr. Obama, in the Monday debate, insisted that “we have a sense of when they would get breakout capacity,” a phrase that left many thinking that was the line he would not let Iran cross.