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Underground “Bunker-Bombs” Strike Bhagdad - 2003-04-09


The fate of Saddam Hussein is still unknown after a U.S. bombing raid on an underground bunker where he and other leaders of his regime were meeting. Coalition commanders believe that if Saddam did survive the attack he may be hiding out in an extensive network of heavily fortified underground bunkers. VOA-TV’s Chris Simkins has more on Saddam’s tunnel network and the special weapon U.S. forces are using to go after it.

When the bombs began falling on Baghdad, U.S. commanders knew Saddam Hussein would hide in sprawling underground bunkers. Phil Anderson is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

PHIL ANDERSON, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
“There is an enormous underground network infrastructure that connects various functions of his government and allows him enormous safety and security.”

Intelligence analysts believe the tunnels crisscross beneath the city from downtown to the airport. The largest bunker cost an estimated 70 million dollars to build.

UNIDENTIFIED ENGINEER
“It is entirely built on elastic shock absorbers. When there is an attack from the outside or an earthquake, these shock absorbers actually isolate the shocks.”

This man is a Yugoslavian engineer who designed Saddam’s main bunker. He says on the first night of the Gulf War 12 years ago the U.S. tried to destroy it and failed.

UNIDENTIFIED ENGINEER
“All the installations and equipment survived. It only shook from side to side when the three cruise missiles hit.”

Since the Gulf War the U.S. has produced bunker busting weapons. The bombs were used in Monday’s attack on a site where U.S. intelligence officials believed Saddam Hussein was meeting with his son and other top military leaders. A bunker buster is almost like an arrow, with a hardened nose cone so that it plows right into the earth. Military analyst Richard Clarke says the bombs can penetrate 30 meters of soil and six meters of concrete before it goes off.

RICHARD CLARKE, MILITARY ANALYST
“For the bunkers that we’re familiar with in Iraq, we believe that the current technology is probably good enough to crash the bunker in.”

If the bombs did their job, the degree of destruction would be so great that the U.S. may never know for sure who they killed.

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