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Bombs Can't Bust Saddam Bunker, Builder Says

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posted on Mar, 28 2003 @ 05:53 PM

Bombs Can't Bust Saddam Bunker, Builder Says

Fri March 28, 2003 10:49 AM ET
By David Crossland
BERLIN (Reuters) - The German architect of one of Saddam Hussein's main bunkers in Baghdad said on Friday the Iraqi leader can survive anything short of a direct hit with a nuclear bomb if he stays within its four-feet-thick walls.

"It could withstand the shock wave of a nuclear bomb the size of the Hiroshima one detonating 250 meters away," said Karl Esser, a security consultant who designed the bunker underneath Saddam's main presidential palace in Baghdad.

U.S.-led troops will also find it hard to fight their way in through its three-ton Swiss-made doors, Esser told Reuters in an interview.

A retired Yugoslav army officer who helped build other bunkers for Saddam also told Reuters this week that the shelters were impenetrable and could survive an atomic bomb.

CNN reported on Friday that U.S. B-52 bombers dropped a two ton "bunker busting" bomb on the capital for the first time in the campaign.

The palace bunker can accommodate 50 people and has two escape tunnels, one leading 200 meters to the Tigris river.

It was built in 1982 and 1983 by German firm Boswau & Knauer, which merged into what is now the Walter-Bau AG building group.

At the time Esser was a consultant for a German government-sponsored civil protection body and had his own company, Schutzraumtechnik Esser GmbH, which supplied equipment for Saddam's bunker.

Whether Saddam is using the bunker or is even still alive is unclear, with London and Washington saying they were not convinced that television broadcasts he has made since the war started were live.

The U.S. and Britain launched the war on Iraq last week with a bombing attack on Baghdad intended to target Saddam, and have pounded the city for nine days.

But Esser said "bunker busting" bombs like the one dropped on Friday would fail to penetrate the bunker because they first have to get though the palace built directly above it.

"The presidential palace above gives natural protection so the bunker can only be cracked by ground troops or a tactical nuclear bomb," said Esser.

The bunker ceiling itself, made of steel-reinforced concrete and up to two meters (yards) thick, was designed to withstand the direct impact of a 230 kg bomb, said Esser.

"It's not a combat bunker, it's an air raid shelter, otherwise it would have had to be built with gun slits and a variety of other features," said Esser.

"Ground troops could get in by taking out the doors with bazookas and explosives."

Construction took place at a time when western companies were legally supplying Saddam with arms and equipment during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Esser said he assumes the plans of the bunker had been passed on to Germany's foreign intelligence service.

Esser remembers giving Saddam a personal tour of the bunker's features, which include a water tank, electricity generator, air filter, 30 square meter command center and so-called electromagnetic pulse protection system -- to shield electrical circuits from the impact of an explosion.

"He was satisfied," said Esser. "He was totally friendly. He was wearing civilian clothes and looked like an ordinary civil servant but you could tell he was important because everyone immediately went quiet when he started talking."

Esser said he had no qualms about having helped to protect a dictator likened to Hitler.

"It's not just one person getting protection, it's several people, it's the palace staff as well. I just see it as an achievement of bunker technology," said Esser.

posted on Mar, 28 2003 @ 06:11 PM
Oh, I have a feeling that something like this will come into play sooner rather than later....

US starts work on nuclear 'bunker-buster' bomb
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
19 March 2002

The United States is developing a new generation of smaller,
super-hardened nuclear weapons to smash through rock and concrete and
attack underground bunkers where enemy states could build weapons of =

There is no guarantee that such bombs can be developed successfully and
plans for them will rouse a storm of controversy. But the new Pentagon
nuclear policy document leaves no doubt that such weapons are high on =
United States' shopping list =E2=80=93 part of "a revitalised nuclear =
complex", in the words of the classified Nuclear Posture Review, the
contents of which were leaked earlier this month.

The new weapons are designed to attack deep underground facilities =
the reach of conventional weapons, including the latest =
such as the thermobaric bomb used against al-Qa'ida tunnel complexes in
the mountains of Afghanistan.

According to the Pentagon, the number of such structures has jumped by a
third since 1998 alone. The review said there are 10,000 of them in 70
countries, with 1,400 of them deemed "strategic" because they house =
missiles, weapons manufacturing facilities or political command centres.

North Korea, Iraq, Libya and Russia all have such underground complexes.
The US has its fair share as well, including the North American Air
Defence command centre in a Colorado mountain, and Strategic Command
headquarters at Offutt air force base near Omaha, Nebraska, where
President George Bush went after the 11 September attacks. Both were
designed to withstand Soviet-era nuclear attacks.

At present, the US has only one nuclear weapon to attack fortified=20
underground targets, the B61-11. Introduced in 1997, this bomb has a
specially hardened nose of depleted uranium. Even when dropped from =
feet, however, tests have shown that the B61-11 can penetrate only 20 =
into the earth, according to the Los Angeles Times, whereas many of the
facilities which most worry the US are 100ft deep or more.

The US arsenal has not been upgraded since 1992 when the former =
Bush senior halted new nuclear arms research. The Pentagon now wants to
reassemble former design teams to develop a blueprint for the new weapon
within two or three years. The successor to the 1,200lb B61-11 would be
about four times heavier and able to penetrate much deeper.

But the latest research is likely to encounter fierce objections on =
strategic and technical grounds. The moral objection is that the bomb =
blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons, whose use
was previously unthinkable.

Proponents argue, however, that making the use of nuclear weapons seem
more likely is the point. The deterrent value of existing US weapons,
designed to destroy entire cities, is virtually nil, precisely because =
one thinks Washington would employ them. Rogue states and terrorist =
would be more frightened if they believed the US was likely to retaliate
with narrowly targeted weapons.

Strategic critics say smaller weapons would encourage nuclear
proliferation. They would probably also hasten the day when the US =
nuclear testing =E2=80=93 encouraging others to do so and nullifying the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (which the US has not ratified).

The final objection is practical. Robert Nelson, of Princeton =
and the Federation of American Scientists, which supports arms control,
has warned that even a small weapon would have to penetrate 230ft deep
before exploding to avoid widespread contamination and "an especially
intense and deadly fallout".=20

Nuke 'Em From On High=20
By Kennedy Grey=20
Oct. 8, 2001=20

Following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was questioned on ABC television's =
Week program about the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons in the
expected conflicts to come.=20

In practiced Pentagonese, Rumsfeld deftly avoided answering the question
of whether the use of tactical nuclear weapons could be ruled out.=20

Though large "theater" thermonuclear devices -- doomsday bombs -- don't
fit the Bush administration's war on terrorism, smaller tactical nukes =
not seem out of the question in the current mindset of the Defense

The most likely candidate is a tactical micro-nuke called the B61-11, an
earth-penetrating nuclear device known as the "bunker buster."=20

The B61-11 was designed to destroy underground military facilities such =
command bunkers, ballistic missile silos and facilities for producing =
storing weapons.=20

However, it could be used against the warren of tunnels and caves carved
under the Afghan mountains that are often cited as a potential refuge =
the U.S. government's prime suspect, Osama bin Laden.=20

According to an article in the May 1997 edition of the Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists: "The B61-11's unique earth-penetrating =
and wide range of yields allow it to threaten otherwise indestructible
targets from the air.=20

"The 1,200-pound B61-11 replaces the B53, a 8,900-pound, nine-megaton =
that was developed as a 'city buster'..."=20

The B53 was deliverable only by vulnerable B-52s; In contrast, the =
and lighter B61-11 can be delivered by the stealthier B-2A bomber, or =
by F-16 fighters.=20

The B61-11 is the most recent device added to the U.S. nuclear arsenal
since 1989, according to the story.=20

It was developed and deployed secretly. The U.S. military sneaked it =
test and development treaties, as well as public and congressional =
by defining the B61-11 as an adaptation of a pre-treaty technology =
than a new development.=20

The B61-11 is designed to burrow through layers of concrete by way of a
"shock-coupling effect."=20

The design directs the force of the B61-11's explosive energy downward,
destroying everything buried beneath it to a depth of several hundred
meters, according to a story in the March 2, 1997 issue of Defense News. =

The B53, on the other hand, with a force equal to 9 million tons of TNT,
penetrates the earth simply by creating a massive crater, rather than =
more precise downward blow of the B61-11.=20

Depending on the yield of the bomb, the B61-11 can produce explosions
ranging from 300 tons of TNT to more than 300,000 tons. This is
significantly less than the B53, but still far larger than even the
greatest conventional non-nuclear device in U.S. stockpiles. And it is
several times more powerful than the atomic weapons dropped on Japan in

Many B61-11s were withdrawn from Europe during the '90s and are now =
at Kirtland and Nellis Air Force bases in the United States.=20

According to a desk release from the Air Force's public affairs office,
tests of the earth-penetrating capabilities of the B61-11 were completed
on March 17, 1998, in frozen tundra at the Stuart Creek Impact Area, 35
miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska.=20

Two unarmed B61-11s were dropped to test their ground-penetration
capability. The tests were designed to measure the nuclear bomb casing's
penetration into frozen soil and the survivability of the weapon's
internal components.=20

A team excavated the two unexploded dummy bombs and took careful
measurements of their angles and depth of penetration into the soil, =
were 6 and 10 feet, according to the Air Force. The shells were sent =
to Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico for full analysis of how =
simulated internal components fared in the impact.=20

The B6-11's casing didn't rupture in any of the tests, including drops
through concrete from 40,000 feet. All bomb casings were recovered 100
percent intact, according to the release.=20

Any debate inside the corridors of power about using tactical nukes will
be heightened by the intelligence buzz surrounding bin Laden's possible
ownership of Russian nuclear "suitcase" bombs purchased from Chechen

Those weapons are said to be hidden in deep caves and fortified tunnels =
remote regions of Afghanistan.=20

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the discussion of ways to eradicate this
potential nuclear threat -=E2=80=93 while simultaneously destroying bin =
and his teams -=E2=80=94 may have led to talk about tactical weapons =
that can
destroy even heavily fortified underground shelters.=20

Studies by the Natural Resource Defense Council estimate that more than
150 B61-11s are currently in the U.S. arsenals, scattered among NATO
aircraft carriers and planes on bases in Germany, Great Britain, Italy,
Turkey, Belgium, Netherlands and Greece.=20

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