Iran recently made headlines when it test launched a new medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, an action that was in clear violation U.N. security resolutions. Yet possibly more interesting was Iran’s state-run news agency showing off massive tunnels built to hide many of its most advanced ballistic missiles stocks.
In what looks like a scene out of a James Bond movie, the video shows long lines of ballistic missiles sitting on modern launchers, all seemingly ready to deploy at an instant. These launchers are sitting in a wide subterranean tunnel with no visual end in sight.
Some experts claim that these tunnels, which are said to be a complex network of such facilities and not just linear caves, are built so that missiles can be launched through vents. Such a tactic would not expose the launcher to surveillance or attack before or even during a launch. This supposedly also helps keep the tunnels’ locations secret even after a launch has been made. This is questionable, however, as the U.S. has the ability to track ballistic missile launches during their early boost phase.
The Iranian commanders interviewed in the videos apparently state that Iran has many of these tunnel systems for redundancy should one be located and come under attack.
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps states:
“The missiles in various ranges are mounted on launchers in all bases and are ready to be launched,” he told an Iranian State TV reporter. “If enemies make a mistake.”
Based on this quote, and considering what strategic advantages these tunnels offer, they may be Iran’s attempt at fielding not just a secure first-strike capability, but also a poor man’s second strike capability.
The disclosure of these tunnel missile bases, which Iran claims to be 1500 feet underground, is a brazen and peculiar one. The Iranians don’t normally publicize these types of defensive measures, instead concentrating on promoting their offensive capabilities. Doing so is a clear signal to the U.S., Israel and the Gulf States that they have a hardened capability to rain destruction from afar if they ever wish to do so.
Although we have to be skeptical when it comes to Iran’s claims about how many of these installations they have, or how deeply they are buried, they could pose some challenges when it comes to striking Iran’s missile capabilities from the air, should such a mission ever be conducted.
Considering that Iran has American and Israeli flags painted on their floors in these tunnel missile bases, it is fairly clear whose interests they plan on targeting. This is not just when it comes to aiming their stash of ballistic missiles, but also when it comes to targeting the propaganda value of this footage.
Contact the author Tyler@jalopnik.com