WASHINGTON: Iran has hidden a large part of its atomic complex in networks of tunnels and bunkers across the country, shielding its infrastructure
from military attack in warrens of dense rock while obscuring the scale of its nuclear effort, according to reports yesterday.
The effort to hide its capability complicated the West's military and geopolitical calculus and helped shield Tehran from attack, US reports said.
The Obama administration is pressing for strong and immediate new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program. Analysts told The New York Times
that Iran's tunnelling - which Tehran calls a strategy of "passive defence" - was a crucial factor behind the push for non-military solutions to
The report said US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates had discounted the possibility of a military strike against Iran, in the belief it would only
slow Tehran's nuclear program by one to three years while driving the project further underground.
Analysts told the paper that Israel, which has taken the hardest line against Iran, might be particularly hampered by the tunnels, given its less
powerful military and intelligence abilities.
"It complicates your targeting," Richard L. Russell, a former CIA analyst now at the National Defence University, told the paper yesterday. "We're
used to facilities being above ground. Underground, it becomes literally a black hole. You can't be sure what's taking place."
US government and private experts told the paper there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tunnels in Iran, and that the lines separating their use
could be fuzzy. Companies owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, for example, built civilian as well as military tunnels.
No one in the West knows how much, or exactly what part of Iran's nuclear program lies hidden in the tunnels.
The report said the original hub of the nuclear complex at Isfahan consisted of scores of buildings that were easily observed and easy to attack, but
US government analysts said that in recent years Iran had honeycombed the nearby mountains with tunnels. Satellite photos showed six entrances.
But the Obama administration has been careful to leave the military option on the table against Iran, and the Pentagon is racing to develop a deadly
tunnel weapon. The report said the device - seven metres long and called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator - began as a 2004 recommendation from the US
Defence Science Board, a high-level advisory group to the Pentagon.
It underwent preliminary testing in 2007, and its first deployment is expected in the northern summer. It will be carried by the B-2 stealth
The report yesterday came as a Pentagon-sponsored study by the Rand Corporation said the Revolutionary Guards had "gained primacy" in Iran since the
2009 presidential election.
So Israel does not have the means to carry out any military action against these facilities, as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator is to be carried on
B-2 stealth bombers, and I doubt the US are going to lend or sell these to Israel anytime soon.
According to wikipedia's sources - the Massive Ordnance Penetrator bunker buster won't be available & operational until December 2010. Neither
Israel or the US have the means to destroy the underground facilities, and have no choice but to support the opposition in Iran or hope the regime
does in fact implode this year.
The Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) GBU-57A/B is a project by the U.S. Air Force to develop a massive, precision-guided, 30,000-pound (13,608
kg) "bunker buster" bomb. This is substantially larger than the deepest penetrating bunker buster presently available, the 5,000-pound (2,268 kg)
Northrop Grumman announced a $2.5-million stealth-bomber refit contract on July 19, 2007. An undisclosed number of the U.S. Air Force's 20 B-2s will
be able to carry two 15-metric-ton MOPs.
The initial explosive test of MOP took place on March 14, 2007 in a tunnel belonging to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) at the White Sands
Missile Range, New Mexico. The exact location of the tunnel was not announced, but comparison of a photograph of the site with aerial photography
suggests it was at the DTRA Capitol Peak Tunnel Complex in the vicinity of 33°26′24″N 106°27′18″W / 33.440°N 106.455°W / 33.440;
On October 6, 2009, ABC News reported that the Pentagon had requested and obtained permission from the U.S. Congress to shift funding in order to
accelerate the project. It was later announced by the U.S. military that "[f]unding delays and enhancements to the planned test schedule
"meant the bomb would not be deployable until December 2010, six months later than the original availability date.
[edit on 6-1-2010 by john124]