A newly-released report indicated that Iran is building nuclear facilities so deep into the mountains that no US bomber or other weapons could destroy them.
According to a new report released by the Associate Press this Monday, satellite imagery analyses show that near a peak of the Zagros Mountains in central Iran, workers are building a nuclear facility so deep in the earth that no US-made weapon designed to destroy such sites can reach it.
As Iran has been victim of sabotage in its nuclear facilities for several times by Israel and the US, Iranians are now taking every precautionary measure required to enhance the safety and security of their nuclear sites against such threats.
And as the Islamic Republic is now producing uranium close to weapons-grade levels after the collapse of its nuclear deal with world powers, the new installation is a new headache for Iran’s enemies, especially Israel, which itself possesses nuclear weapons but is afraid of Iran’s nuclear program. Israel and the US believe that by enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels, Iran is indeed moving in the path of developing an atomic bomb. Tehran, however, categorically denies such allegations and has asserted many times now and then that its nuclear program is all peaceful, with no intention whatsoever to develop a nuclear weapon.
Speaking to the Associate Press this Monday, Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation policy at the Washington-based Arms Control Association warned that “completion of such a facility would be a nightmare scenario that risks igniting a new escalatory spiral”. Davenport also noted that “given how close Iran is to a bomb, it has very little room to ratchet up its program without tripping US and Israeli red lines. So at this point, any further escalation increases the risk of conflict”.
Israel reacts to Iran’s new nuclear facility
In reaction to the development of the new nuclear facility in Iran, Israel Military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi warned this Tuesday that there may be “negative developments” with regard to Iran’s nuclear program that would prompt Israel to react.
“Iran has made more progress in uranium enrichment than ever before. We are also closely examining other aspects of the way to nuclear capability,” Halevi said at a conference hosted by the Institute for Policy and Strategy of Reichman University in Herzliya. “Without going into details, there are possible negative developments on the horizon that could prompt action,” he also noted.
No worries about the new nuke site, Iran says
Despite all the concerns that Iran’s mission to the United Nations, in response to questions from the AP regarding the construction, said that “Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities are transparent and under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.” Iran says that the new construction will replace an above-ground centrifuge manufacturing center at Natanz, which was exploded during an attack back in July 2020. Iranian officials blamed Israel and the US for the sabotage and labelled it as “nuclear terrorism”.
Tehran has not acknowledged any other plans for the facility, though it would have to declare the site to the IAEA if authorities planned to introduce uranium into it. The Vienna-based IAEA did not respond to questions about the new underground facility.
According to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, the new nuclear site is being constructed next to Natanz, about 225km (140 miles) south of Tehran. It is protected by anti-aircraft batteries, fencing and Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, and sprawls across 2.7sq km (1sq mile) in the country’s arid central plateau. The new facility is also likely to be even deeper underground than Iran’s Fordow site, another enrichment complex which is located in Iran’s center in the city of Qom.