A top official with Iran’s nuclear program announced over the weekend that the country is on the verge of breaking ground on a second uranium enrichment site. This rebellious announcement comes amid new international sanctions against the country due to its dispute over their nuclear program. The announcement was made through new media reports and came after weeks of escalading confrontations between Tehran and Washing. This included a threat that Iran could potentially respond through military force if the US tried to send their aircraft carriers through the Strait of Hormuz.

The second enrichment site, the Fordo plant, which is located near Qum, puts the US in a difficult position about how far they will need to go in order to limit the nuclear abilities of Iran. The Fordo plan is located underground and is well defended against attacks. This makes the plant more resistant to missiles and other forms of air strikes than the first plant at Natanz.

The Fordo plant was first talked about in 2009 by President Barack Obama. At the time, the US, France and Great Britain were not convinced that Iran would go far enough to develop the plant. Once the plant goes into operation it will be much more difficult to disable it. Fereydoon Abbasi made the announcement on Saturday that the facility was nearly completed. Abbasi was made the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in 2010 after surviving an assassination attempt.

Iran has been known to exaggerate their abilities, however, nuclear experts claim that an operational site is plausible. Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency reported enrichment centrifuges in December, which makes the story even more probable.

Iran has been deeply hurt by four years of sanctions, but it appears that the nuclear energy program is flourishing. The oil embargo in Europe and the new sanctions by America could undercut the government and lead to a cutoff of their biggest revenue source: oil. These sanctions seem to have only made Iran more determined to proceed with their enrichment program.

Iran has threatened to close shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, which could increase oil prices immensely. Iran has conducted exercises with their military to close the waterway and stated that they would use military force to bar the reentry of the John C Stennis, a US aircraft Carrier.