Following an exclusive Associated Press revelation revealing Tehran’s new underground tunnel system close to a nuclear enrichment facility, the head of Iran’s nuclear program reiterated Wednesday that his country will work with foreign inspectors on any “new activities.”
The AP explained this week how the new tunnels near the Natanz complex are likely beyond the reach of a last-ditch U.S. missile meant to destroy such sites since they are deep inside a mountain.
The information generated more discussion over the building throughout the Middle East, and on Tuesday, Israel’s national security adviser warned that even if the site was too deep for American airstrikes, it would still be vulnerable to assault.
After the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mohammad Eslami of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran sought to portray the interest in the site as an instance of Israel coming under pressure.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is working under IAEA safeguards, and whenever it wants to start new activities, it will coordinate with the IAEA and act accordingly,” Eslami added,
abbreviating the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In regards to the construction at Natanz, which is located about 225 kilometers (140 miles) south of Tehran, the IAEA did not react to inquiries from the AP.
Since its existence was made public twenty years ago, Natanz has been a source of concern on a global scale.
According to specialists who spoke to the AP and satellite images of the piles of earth left over from the digging, the new tunnels will be between 80 meters (260 feet) and 100 meters (328 feet) deep.
Due to these subsurface facilities, the United States developed the GBU-57 bomb, which, according to the American military, can pierce at least 60 meters (200 feet) of earth before detonating.
According to reports, American officials have explored launching two of these bombs consecutively to ensure a facility is destroyed.
It’s unclear if a one-two blow like that would harm a facility as substantial as the one in Natanz.
The United States and its allies have fewer alternatives for attacking the site now that such weapons may no longer be feasible.
Sabotage attacks might resume if diplomacy stays deadlocked, as it has for months over Iran’s shattered nuclear accord.
Iran claims that the new building will take the place of a Natanz facility that manufactured above-ground centrifuges and was destroyed by an explosion and fire in July 2020.
Israel, which Tehran has long suspected of waging sabotage activities against its program, was given the blame for the mishap.