Hot Air links us to an article at Wired which discusses some of the difficulties encountered by intelligence agencies in locating Iran's underground nuclear weapons facilities and some of the technology that's being brought to bear on the problem.
It's interesting reading, but the article goes on to address the problem of how to neutralize the facilities once the tunnels that house them are identified and mapped. There are a number of tools that have been or are being developed in order to accomplish this task including bombs called massive ordinance penetrators (MOPs) which can penetrate 60 feet of solid concrete before detonating.
There are also other options which rely on finesse rather than brute power:
The MOP may be capable of smashing through a lot of rock, but there are smarter approaches. The U.S. Air Force has developed skip-bombing techniques with bunker busters so that they arrive horizontally and can be aimed precisely at entrance doors. They may not destroy the entire facility, but if all the entrances are wrecked, then nothing can go in or out.
Thermobaric bombs like the BLU-118 "cave buster" have been specifically designed for attacking tunnel systems; the shockwave will travel far underground, going around corners and bends that would degrade normal blast waves. One test showed that it could kill human targets even when the blast had traveled through 1,100 feet of tunnels.
There are also more exotic options, like the Rocket Balls (or more correctly, "kinetic fireball incendiaries") developed for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. A warhead would release a large number of these rubberized balls of rocket fuel; once ignited they bounce around at high speed, spreading out by going through doorways and other openings and raising the surrounding temperature to over a thousand degrees within seconds.
Will Iran give up its nuclear weapons program? If they don't will we try to take it out? If we do what will be the blowback from such an operation? Does Barack Obama have the right stuff to deal wisely with these questions? Let's hope.RLC