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Reader comment on item: Why I Am Not Writing About Iran
in response to reader comment: thank you for the info, Keith

Submitted by Keith (United States), Apr 4, 2012 at 11:47

Any underground installation requires ventilation, both intake and exhaust. Without ventilation people can't work for sustained periods of time. All the machinery running in a place like an underground lab generates heat that is carried out with the exhaust air. This would be seen in thermal imaging so the locations of exhaust airways is known. Intake air can either enter through dedicated shafts, or through drive-in portals. However since it is a lab facility rather than merely an underground mine there is a need to treat the air for dust, and climate control it. This requires large machinery that would either be located on the surface or underground. If on the surface it would help mark the location of the air intakes. If underground it would increase the amount of waste heat to be disposed of, and therefore increase the overall size of the required ventilation system, a factor that would increase its vulnerability.

If there are intake ventilation shafts these would be obvious in satellite imagery - even if they try to hide them inside buildings the buildings would need louvers or openings on the sides to let the air in. The high air flow would produce thermal anomalies on the buildings that would be apparent during weather related or daily temperature changes because those temperature changes would occur more rapidly in locations of high air flow than on other buildings - the ventilation intakes would always be at the ambient temperature, whereas heated/insulated buildings would show typically patchy and non-ambient thermal signatures. This would be apparent in thermal imaging as well. If the air is taken in through drive-in portals the locations are obvious from sat imagery.

Destroy the ventilation system with precision bombs and the facility will be unusable for a long time. That alone would be enough to set back the program considerably.

You can be certain that the world's leading intelligence agencies all have a perfectly clear understanding of what ventilation infrastructure exists and when it was built. They would also have an idea of the extent of the underground workings based on the size of the ventilation intake and exhaust systems and the amount of waste rock that has been removed from the mountain and piled somewhere on the surface. They would also have an idea of the amount of energy being consumed underground and being exhausted in the form of waste heat. They would have an idea of the number of people going in and out daily. Their knowledge of these facilities would be extensive, and there is nothing Iran could do to prevent this information from being well known. Even if they dig long tunnels from elsewhere, the waste rock from those excavations would be tracked and sourced and the volumes known. Also the ventilation of those tunnels would be apparent as well as the traffic flow.

If there comes a day when we want to seal that mountain, we will be able to do so quite effectively, and without nukes. And if they can't access their equipment or work with it because of a lack of ventilation they can't advance their program. How much additional damage we can do to equipment inside the mountain is another issue entirely, and lacking any knowledge about what they have, and at what depths, and how it might be protected I can't comment on that.

However, blast shock waves would tend to find weaknesses, and ventilation systems are necessarily structural weaknesses since they have to be big and fairly open. Whether they have ventilation shafts or use portals we can precisely land huge bombs that will not only take out the ventilation systems and seal the portals, but also do considerable damage to other equipment in the mountain, at least to some depth.

Submitting....

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