Sunday, March 12, 2006

Telegraph | News | Iran builds a secret underground complex as nuclear tensions rise

Telegraph | News | Iran builds a secret underground complex as nuclear tensions rise:
By Philip Sherwell in Washington

Iran's leaders have built a secret underground emergency command centre in Teheran as they prepare for a confrontation with the West over their illicit nuclear programme, the Sunday Telegraph has been told.

The complex of rooms and offices beneath the Abbas Abad district in the north of the capital is designed to serve as a bolthole and headquarters for the country's rulers as military tensions mount.

Iranian boats
Iran uses small attack boats to simulate assaults on US warships

The recently completed command centre is connected by tunnels to other government compounds near the Mossala prayer ground, one of the city's most important religious sites.

Offices of the state security forces, the energy department and the Organisation of Islamic Culture and Communications are all located in the same area.

The construction of the complex is part of the regime's plan to move more of its operations beneath ground. The Revolutionary Guard has overseen the development of subterranean chambers and tunnels - some more than half a mile long and an estimated 35ft high and wide - at sites across the country for research and development work on nuclear and rocket programmes.

The opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) learnt about the complex from its contacts within the regime. The same network revealed in 2002 that Iran had been operating a secret nuclear programme for 18 years.

The underground strategy is partly designed to hide activities from satellite view and international inspections but also reflects a growing belief in Teheran that its showdown with the international community could end in air strikes by America or Israel. 'Iran's leaders are clearly preparing for a confrontation by going underground,' said Alireza Jafarzadeh, the NCRI official who made the 2002 announcement."

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