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While Israel might not be able to destroy Iran's nuclear facility at Qom with an ordinary bomb, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday, it does have additional options.
Not much is known about the Qom facility, but according to some reports it is buried deep underground and inside a mountain. The Iranians reportedly dug tunnels into a mountain to build the bunker in which it planned to store and operate centrifuges to enrich uranium.
Israel has over the years received different types of bunker-buster bombs from the United States and has also developed some of its own weapons with similar capabilities. According to Yiftah Shapir, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, though, a bunker deep inside a mountain would pose a major challenge for Israeli military strategists.
"The two options that might work but are highly unlikely for Israel are to use a tactical nuclear weapon or to send a special elite military force into the facility to destroy it," Shapir explained. "Both of these options are unlikely though for Israel."
Shapir also speculated about how effective a nuclear weapon would be on the Qom facility. While he stressed that he was not privy to intelligence information regarding its fortifications, if it was built deep inside a mountain it might also be protected from tactical nukes, like the US military's NORAD base, which is built inside a mountain in Colorado.
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