Iran is building a vast tunnel network next to its Natanz nuclear production site in order to house a uranium nuclear production site that cannot be harmed by US bunker-busting bombs or cyberattacks, the New York Times first reported late Thursday. The tunnel construction an be seen on satellite photographs and is being monitored by groups that track such nuclear facility proliferation. The US has not spoken about it publicly, though it is known to the Biden administration, according to the report. Israel also is aware of the tunnel construction, the report also says.
The report comes as efforts to revive a nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers appear to be dead, and after Iran switched off 27 cameras monitoring Iran’s nuclear production, which will make it impossible to track where Iran’s nuclear materials are being taken. It likely will be a topic of discussion when US President Joe Biden meets next month with Israeli officials in Israel.
Several Israeli officials believe Iran’s ultimate objective is to use the facility to enrich uranium at a mass scale, according to the report.
Another Iranian nuclear site, Fordow, operates underground, built under a mountain on a base run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. Iran has successfully begun to enrich uranium to 60 % purity, which is on the cusp of what is needed to create a nuclear weapon.