September 8th, 2012
(HigginsBlog) – A DC think tank report suggests nuclear strikes are required to take out Iran’s underground facilities because conventional weapons are incapable of doing so.
Yesterday Business Insider alerted us to a detailed researched report released by Washington D.C. foreign policy think tank the Center For Strategic & International Studies.
The report examines the various military strike scenarios for taking out Iran’s civilian nuclear power program.
The report addresses 3 scenarios in detail: an Israeli airstrike, an Israeli nuclear strike and a US military strike launched in cooperation with Gulf States.
The scenario where Israel launches an airstrike on its own is described as a high risk operation with very low probability of success with numerous difficulties that must be overcome.
That scenario is ruled out as it ends in disaster with US and numerous other gulf states suffering high levels of damage as a result of an Iranian counter strike and leads to a protracted long-term war in the gulf.
With that scenario being ruled out the think tank focuses bluntly states the US the only country capable of launching a military strike capable of crippling Iran’s defenses and preventing an Iranian counter attack.
The think tank makes it clear Iran’s defenses are no match for US technology and military assets, bluntly stating the US is the only nation capable of conducting the the strike
The U.S. is the only country that can launch a successful Military Strike, if all peaceful options have been exhausted and Iran has left no other means to convince it to stop or change its course in pursuing Nuclear Weapons. The U.S. should alone determine what the timeline could be if Iran does pursue the path to develop nuclear weapons.
But the scenario outlined in a US air strike has a glaring flaw which the paper makes clear:
Depending on the forces allocated and duration of air strikes, it is unlikely that an air campaign alone could alone terminate Iran’s program. The possibility of dispersed facilities complicates any assessment of a potential mission success, making it unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be on Iran’s
The reason that even a successful US led air strike scenario would be ineffective is because the use of conventional bunker buster bombs to attack Iran’s underground tunnels, bunkers and nuclear enrichment facilities would be ineffective.
Low Yield Nuclear Strike Required To Take Out Iran’s Underground Facility
As an alternative to conventional bunker busters the think tank suggests using low yield nuclear bombs to destroy Iran’s underground nuclear facilities.
Low Yield Earth Penetrating Nuclear Weapons
• Another scenario is using these warheads as a substitute for conventional weapons to attack deeply buried nuclear facilities in Iran. Some believe that nuclear weapons are the only weapons that can destroy targets deep underground or in tunnels.
• The gun-type Uranium based nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the U.S. in August of 1945 was about 8,000 pounds in weight, and contained about 60 kg of weapons grade Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU), of which about 0.7 kg underwent fission producing a Yield of 12.5 kilotons. The Plutonium implosion bomb dropped on Negasaki weighed about 10,800 pounds and contained about 6.4 kg of weapons-grade Plutonium PU-239. Producing a yield of 22 kilotons. in the subsequent years the U.S. was able to produce Plutonium-implosion nuclear bombs in the same yield range with weights down to 2,000 lbs and less.
• If Ballistic Missiles are used to carry out the mission, Israel has have a Ballistic Missile Defense System whereas Iran does not have one, such as the Russian S-300PMU2 “Favorit”, that was designed to intercept ballistic missiles as well as combat aircraft.
Why Low yield Nuclear Weapons Are Required
Here’s the payload calculations and the penetration depth of conventional non-nuclear bunker busters.
As you can see, even the heaviest GBU-28 perpetrator, with a total payload of nearly 10,000 lbs,, is only capable of penetrating 6 meters of concrete and 30 meters of dirt.
That is clearly a problem when most underground facilities are 100 to 400 meters underground and reinforced with much more concrete.
The report then plots the data of the penetration capabilities of low-yield nuclear bombs, with the typical depth of underground facilities shared and gray. The Green plots are for a 10 kiloton nuclear warhead and the blue are for a 300 kiloton nuclear warhead.
As you can see with tunnels and underground facilities being 100 to 400 meters beneath the ground the 30 meter penetration capabilities of conventional bunker busters will not be effective.
As the char shows even a 10 kiloton nuclear warhead has a slim probability of destroying such a facility with only a 1 in 10 success rate at a little over 200 meters and a virtually 0% chance of success at 300 meters.
As the data shows a 300 kiloton nuclear warhead is needed for a high probability of a successful strike and even then a second or third nuclear strike could be required to achieve a 100% probability of the facility being destroyed.
Here’s the Business Insider report which ignores the Think Tanks findings on the need to use nuclear weapons to take out Iran’s facilities.:
This Is What A US Strike On Iran’s Nuclear Facilities Could Look Like
Washington D.C. foreign policy think tank the Center For Strategic & International Studies took a long hard look at what it really means to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, what it would take, and what it could lead to in a report released yesterday.
The speculation that Israel can go it alone against Tehran remains, but the specifics of what’s required by a US attack to put the nuclear program in the dust is outlined in detail. At least 16 F-18s, and 10 B-2 bombers carrying 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs, would initially be required by US forces.
Iran’s retaliation would be another story entirely with a massive incoming missile salvo directed about the entire region. When that happens a full Ballistic Missile War could ensue with untold US space, air, sea, and land elements coming into play.
Source: Business Insider
Business Insider posted three graphics from the report focusing solely on what the US strike could look like:
So while the report makes it clear the US has a high probability of conducting successful airstrikes with impunity and very low probability of a successful Iranian counterstrike the report also clearly suggests that a nuclear strike is required to destroy Iran’s underground facilities.
Wired has posted a summary of the resources required to pull of the airstrike which can be viewed here.
Wired, just like Business Insider, neglect to mention the findings the nuclear weapons would be required to penetrate Iran’s underground facilities.
The Pentagon even admitted earlier in the year the 30,000 lb bunker busters couldn’t penetrate Iran’s underground facilities and ordered an urgent upgrade.
Watch: Pentagon calls for ‘urgent’ upgrade of massive bunker-busting bombs, as Iranian threat looms
I personally would not be surprised if a nuclear strike was carried out in secret while the US sells the lie to the rest of the world the strike was done with conventional weapons.
How would they get caught from the radiation left at the site?
Not at all. Since they are striking nuclear facilities the radiation could simply be blamed on the nuclear materials already at the site.
Source: Higgins Blog