Iran has hardened and buried its nuclear facilities, learning from Osirak strike
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Harden, or place deep underground, as much of the nuclear research and production equipment, as possible. Much of the technology needed to separate plutonium or to enrich uranium (e.g., centrifuge enrichment cascades) is complex and sensitive, and requires a fair amount of space and special handling capabilities. If this equipment can be placed in hardened or underground facilities, it will be much more difficult for the United States or other nations to hold it at risk. Similarly, if the program is dispersed to multiple sites around the country and undertaken at remote, nondescript facilities that are protected by a layered air-defense system, it greatly complicates the intelligence problem of identifying where fissile material or weapons are being produced and stored. It also reduces the likelihood of an attack - or at least, a successful attack - such as the one that the Israelis conducted in June 1981 against the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. There is strong, tangible evidence that Iran has been pursuing these tactics, including a report from the IAEA indicating that parts of the Iranian nuclear R&D program were being undertaken in hardened, underground facilities, and in other facilities that had been kept entirely secret from IAEA inspectors - in some cases for as long as 18 years.
"Responding to a Nuclear Iran: A Defense Policy Perspective
." Syracuse Law Review
. Vol. 57. (2007): 457-. [ More (2 quotes) ]
Even if Iran's nuclear facilities were severely damaged during an attack, it is possible that Iran could embark on a crash programme to make one nuclear weapon. In the aftermath of an attack, it is likely that popular support for an Iranian nuclear weapon capability would increase; bolstering the position of hardliners and strengthening arguments that Iran must possess a nuclear deterrent. Furthermore, Iran has threatened to withdraw from the NPT and, should it do so post-attack, would build a clandestine programme free of international inspection and control.
The 1981 Israeli strike on the French-Iraqi nuclear reactor Osirak has often been cited as a successful example of using military strikes to disrupt a nuclear weapons program. However, a more careful analysis of the evidence shows that the attack did not disrupt Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons effort and may have backfired by giving him more motivation and incentive to pursue one.