HERALD SUN 15mar03
When the bombs start dropping on Baghdad, President Saddam Hussein will be 32m under ground in a palatial blast-proof bunker. Details of the Hitler-style bunker, built for the Iraqi dictator in 1982 during the war with Iran, have been revealed.
According to Germany’s Focus magazine, the $150 million bunker, designed to withstand missile attacks and bomb blasts, was built by German firm Boswau and Knauer, who built air-raid shelters for Hitler’s Third Reich in World War II.
The inner sanctum is protected by a shell of up to 6m of reinforced concrete and giant steel doors capable of withstanding temperatures of 300C.
But in true dictator style, the bunker is lavishly decorated with gold light switches, elaborate tiling and modern conveniences.
The mini-palace has six bathrooms, numerous bedrooms, children’s rooms, guards’ quarters, and a kitchen with freeze-dried provisions for a year.
Saddam’s private rooms include a separate living room, a bathroom with a spa bath, a dressing room and a built-in wardrobe.
A large library has a huge collection of CDs and DVDs and a conference room contains communication and video links to the outside world.
The bunker is designed to be as self-contained as possible. Water is constantly recycled and there’s an emergency power supply.
Access is through a lift hidden beneath the swimming pool of the palace and escape is via a tunnel under the Tigris river.
But if the United States uses its “bunker busters” there may no escape for Saddam at all.
According to military expert Adlo Borgu, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, high-powered US bombs designed to penetrate underground bunkers will reach Saddam’s hideout.
The US has two guided bombs designed for such a task – the GBU37 and the GBU28.
“The GBU37 is a GPSguided weapon with a 1600kg warhead, which is dropped by an aircraft and designed to penetrate m of concrete or 32m of earth,” Mr Borgu said. “The GBU28 is the same except it is laser-guided.”
It’s widely suspected the US has also been experimenting with weapons that can penetrate even farther.
“If Saddam Hussein has a bunker 32m underground, I’d be surprised if the US doesn’t have one that can get him,” Mr Borgu said.
Debate has raged in the US over the possible use of nuclear-tipped “bunker busters”, which would provide the punch of a nuclear explosion upon impact.
Mr Borgu said no matter how desperately the US wanted Saddam, nuclear weapons would be a critical mistake.
“I can’t see any situation when they would use nuclear weapons – if they use nuclear weapons they will lose the war,” he said.”They might win it militarily, but they will lose it morally.”
According to US military analysts, the flaw in the bunker’s design is the openings for the fresh air system, which could be used to pump in poisonous gas or even water.
But Mr Borgu believes this is unlikely.
“If the US is in a position of putting water into the bunker, they’re in a position of getting troops down there,” he said.
“The first option will be to try to take out bunkers from air but if they’ve got troops on the ground I can’t imagine them doing something like that – for one thing they just won’t know what’s in there.
“They don’t want a repeat of 1991 and will go out of their way to avoid civilian casualties.”