Iranian nuclear chief Fereydoon Abbasi told local news outlet ISNA on Wednesday that work on centrifuges in the Fordo installation was nearly complete. This marks the first time the Iranian government has confirmed working on centrifuges at Fordo in an official capacity.
Abbasi told ISNA that Iran is "near completing its nuclear activities [in Fordo] despite negative reports made by the Western media." Abbasi was referring to statements made by Western diplomats to Reuters last week stating that Iran was close to completing work on the Fordo nuclear enrichment plant. According to the diplomats, Tehran has already installed the last 640 out of 2,800 centrifuges planned for the compound, though it has yet to activate them.
Iran only disclosed the existence of the Fordo plant in 2009 after learning that Western spy services had detected it. Fordo's strategic placement inside a mountain makes it nearly impervious to potential air strikes on the plant, and its completion provides Iran with what Israeli politicians have called a "zone of immunity," and have warned against for more than a year.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has stated that Tehran was set to complete the Fordo compound by the end of 2012.