Tag Archives: tunnels

BBC News – ‘Ndrangheta: Exploring the mafia’s underground world

The biggest cocaine smugglers in Europe are the ‘Ndrangheta, a mafia from the “toe of Italy”, Calabria. They may not be as well known as their Sicilian counterparts but their drugs and extortion business is worth billions of euros. When cornered their bosses hole up in secret bunkers.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to see sunlight. Since dead of night I had been crawling through tunnels strewn with rat excrement, personal effects and the paraphernalia of the cocaine business.

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The dust and damp were choking. How long had I been underground? Four hours? Five? Eight? Then at last, filthy, tired, and disorientated, I surfaced into a gorgeous mountain landscape, and a breeze bearing the perfume of wild oregano.

I felt as if I had just escaped a brush with insanity, with evil.

BBC News – ‘Ndrangheta: Exploring the mafia’s underground world

In China, Families Bet It All on a Child in College – NYTimes.com

Wu Yiebing has been going down coal shafts practically every workday of his life, wrestling an electric drill for $500 a month in the choking dust of claustrophobic tunnels, with one goal in mind: paying for his daughter’s education.

His wife, Cao Weiping, toils from dawn to sunset in orchards every day during apple season in May and June. She earns $12 a day tying little plastic bags one at a time around 3,000 young apples on trees, to protect them from insects. The rest of the year she works as a substitute store clerk, earning several dollars a day, all going toward their daughter’s education.

… A slightly above-average student, she thinks of dropping out, finding a job and earning money.

“Every time my daughter calls home, she says, ‘I don’t want to continue this,’ ” Mrs. Cao said. “And I say, ‘You’ve got to keep studying to take care of us when we get old’, and she says, ‘That’s too much pressure, I don’t want to think about all that responsibility.’ ”

Ms. Wu realizes the odds against her. Among those who graduated last spring from her polytechnic, she said, “50 or 60 percent of them still do not have a job.”

In China, Families Bet It All on a Child in College – NYTimes.com

This is what happens when everybody wants to do the same thing. They march off a cliff together. It looks like this family is a train wreck waiting to happen. I hope I am wrong about that, but it’s not looking good.

Iran has plans for us | The Daily Caller

… According to Khalili’s highly placed informants, the mullahs set a deadline. If America increases sanctions or conducts a military strike on Iranian nuclear sites in the next six months, the mullahs will unleash terror teams in the United States.

Khalili writes that 10 senior Revolutionary Guards officers, members of the elite Quds Force, are already here. Highly trained and sophisticated, each commands a cell of five agents. Targets have been identified, photographed and approved by Supreme Leader Khamenei, and include electrical transmission lines, cell phone towers, water supplies, public transportation, bridges, tunnels and government buildings.

Sounds too far-fetched? …

Iran has plans for us | The Daily Caller

China conducts mobile ICBM test days ahead of expected North Korean launch | Washington Free Beacon

China is known to use its missile tests to send political signals, as in 1996 when it bracketed Taiwan with missile flight tests that impacted north and south of the island prior to a presidential election.

Analysts say the DF-31A test likely was intended to bolster the Chinese military’s hardline stance toward the United States and particularly the U.S. military, regarded by Beijing as its main adversary.

The most recent DF-31 flight test occurred Aug. 30, also from Wuzhai, located in Shanxi province about 267 miles southwest of Beijing. That missile test involved a single warhead simulation.

The DF-31A development “suggests that China may be building toward a ‘counterstrike’ strategy that would require the secret buildup of many more missiles and warheads than suggested by public ICBM number estimates made available by the U.S. Intelligence Community,” he said.

Fisher said China may be stockpiling large numbers of “reload” missiles for the mobile DF-31A launchers in its large-scale underground nuclear system, estimated to include 3,000 miles of tunnels.

China conducts mobile ICBM test days ahead of expected North Korean launch | Washington Free Beacon

US Special Ops commander: We’ve sent troops into North Korea | The Daily Caller

“The entire tunnel infrastructure is hidden from our satellites,” Tolley added, according a report published Monday by The Diplomat, a Japan-based foreign affairs magazine.

“So we send ROK [Republic of Korea] soldiers and U.S. soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance.”

North Korea, he said, has dug tunnels underneath the Demilitarized Zone separating it from the South. “There were four tunnels under the DMZ,” Tolley observed, according to a Tampa Tribune blogger. “Those are the ones we know about.”

US Special Ops commander: We’ve sent troops into North Korea | The Daily Caller

Iran readies secret salt desert bunkers for clandestine nuclear facilities

When International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Yukiya Amano declared Friday, May 4, that “Parchin (the suspected site of nuclear-related explosion tests) is the priority and we start with that,” he may have missed the boat. As he spoke, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it was possible that Iran was already putting in place the infrastructure for building a nuclear bomb in 60 days.

In this regard, debkafile’s military sources disclose that Iran had by the end of 2009 to early 2012 completed the construction of a new chain of underground facilities deep inside the Dasht e-Kavir (Great Salt Desert) – all linked together by huge tunnels.

DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism, Security

Iran-backed Hezbollah’s Threat Growing in US

The warning last month from Representative Peter King, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, was blunt: An investigation by his staff had determined that “hundreds” of people he described as “Iranian and Hezbollah terrorists” were in the United States.

But interviews with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as private experts, about the Iranian-sponsored group paint a more nuanced picture. There is a threat, though whether it is imminent or extensive is far from clear, they say.

An alarming part of the officials’ assessments focuses on the apparent surveillance missions that Iranian diplomats and possible Hezbollah operatives have been seen conducting at sensitive targets such as New York subways and bridges, and at nuclear power plants and tunnels elsewhere in the United States in the past 10 years.

Iran-backed Hezbollah’s Threat Growing in US

Girl Sneaks Into Russian Military Rocket Factory | Gizmodo Australia

Her name is Lana Sator and she sneaked into one of NPO Energomash factories outside of Moscow. Her photos are amazing, like sets straight out of the next Alien movie.

She just went there, jumped over the fence, and got right in through a series of tunnels and pipes, which is very surprising for an active industrial installation that belongs to one of the top manufacturers of liquid-fuel rockets in the world, with strong ties to the Russian military. But she she found nobody. No guards, no security. Just a few CCTV cameras here and there.

While some of these places look decrepit and abandoned, the factory is active. In fact, the government is really pissed off with her. The authorities have sent her letters saying that her situation will get “much worse” if she keeps posting photos from the factory.

Badass Lana doesn’t seem to give a damn about it, which makes me want to go to Russia, become her friend and party hard for a whole week. [Lana Sator via Animal New York via Minus Manhattan via It’s Full of Stars]

Girl Sneaks Into Russian Military Rocket Factory | Gizmodo Australia

More Tunnels, Yes. More Chinese Nukes? Could Be

As you might expect, the arms control community was up in arms about the new report from Phillip Karber, a Georgetown University professor showing that China could potentially have many more nuclear weapons than previous estimates. They were working pretty hard to find fault with it.

The most obvious fault – and one that has been widely noted – is Karber’s repetition of a fantastical estimate for the number of nuclear weapons in the PLA arsenal, which turns out to come from blogosphere speculation based on earlier misestimates that were long ago debunked.

The arms control community loves to point to Jeffery Lewis’ ArmsControlWonk.Com where Jeffery debunks estimates that include large numbers of Chinese nuclear weapons. Except the issue is more complicated than Jeffery lets on. In fact, a little digging by a commenter on ArmControlWonk.Com shows that China really could have in the neighborhood of 3,000 nuclear weapons. Of course, no one knows the real answer because China won’t tell us.

Take a look at the exchange between commenter Yale Simkin and Jeffery Lewis. Yale makes some pretty credible remarks that show us how China really could potentially have around 3,000 nuclear weapons.

Yale’s comment:

Jeffery’s essay stated an “An accurate list” of Chinese fissile production facilities was at the NTI site. That page links to another NTI page of various expert estimates of actual production.

The range of HEU was 4 – 20 tons.

10 kilograms of HEU per boosted warhead yields a range of possible warheads of 400 to 2000.

The DOE estimate of 1.7 – 2.8 tons of plutonium, at 3 kg per boosted device yields 567 – 933.

This results in an outside number of +2900 potential warheads.

The above number assumes that plutonium is used separately from HEU to create more weapons. If the plutonium is used with HEU to create higher yielding bombs then fewer nuclear warheads can be created – 2,000 instead of 2,900.

Jeffery’s response:

… size of the stockpile is based on Pu production divided by slightly more than 3 kg per warhead.”

So, when I do stockpile estimates, I size the force to the number of Pu pits the Chinese could make.

I think I figured 3-5 kg of Pu spread across a 1.7-2.8 t stockpile for a total of 340-930 warheads.

If the Pu usage is more intense, on the order of 7 kg per primary (see De Geer for evidence that the Chinese might have more Pu per bomb), then, well, that number drops pretty low — to about 240-400.

Yale’s response:

Yale Simkin | May 18, 2009

De Geer’s numbers are based on pulling a quite small number from a great deal of noise. He also makes some big assumptions as to the elemental and isotopic composition of the primary, secondary blanket (and possible fissile sparkplug in the secondary – which he appears not to address), nor the possiblity of a failed tertiary stage with Pu sparkplug, nor fusion boosting.

That being said, he does make his point, which is not demonstrating the quantity of fissile in a Chinese nuke, rather it was showing that the H-Bomb explosion was a Teller-Ulam design rather than the Teller classical (or Sakharov layercake).

But what about the actual numbers he did derive. What are their utility in stockpile analysis?

De Geer calculated that the Chinese test left 3.09 +/- 1.01 g of primary Pu unburned per kiloton of fission. He then calculated the fission yield of the explosion was 2,500 +/- 200 kilotons.

From that you get a range of UNBURNED (not total) primary Pu of 4.784 Kgs to 11.07 kgs.
De Geer tightened the range to a likely probability of 5.1 kgs to 10.3 kgs.

This is not the amount of Pu in the primary. A reasonable yield for the primary is, lets say, 25kt. At 17.3kt/kg of fissioned Pu, this adds about 1.4 kg of Pu. (The primary may have been more powerful, but I leave it at 25kt)

So, our range is now 6.2 to 12.5 kgs. (Fat Man was 6.3 kg)

There is also the very significant quantity of Pu burned by fusion neutrons even with a primary separate and shielded from the secondary.

The bottom line is that De Geer’s numbers are very high. His lowest numbers are possible – but very inefficient. His highest numbers are very weird. They are higher than the bare-sphere critical mass quantity for Pu239!

It would mean a extremely low-density core geometry and real quick and powerful assembly.

I dunno…

Does any of this matter?

The quantity of Pu used in a primary for a test of 4000 kilotons 33 years ago is not necessarily identical to the current stockpile designs.

Again, none of this is relevant to the point I was trying to make in my post.
I was not claiming that China is using both HEU and Pu, nor that they are using them in efficient designs.

My post was about what is their POTENTIAL capability? – the necessary starting point for considering China’s future stockpile.

To quote myself: While I don’t see any reason for China to have built more than a few hundred warheads, what COULD they build?

And: Again, I am not promoting the view that China has that many devices or that they are efficient in per weapon fissile requirements, but Zheng may not have been way off in what they CAN do.

While we may consider their intentions and needs, good policy requires that we must not lose sight of their capabilities. (See ACW discussions like here )

If China used both its HEU and Pu, and used it in high-tech efficient designs, then without any further fissile production, it is sitting on more than 2000 bombs worth of SNM – a fact of at least passing importance.


On Georgetown Team’s China Claims: More Tunnels, Yes. More Nukes? Not Necessarily. – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The Washington Post elaborated yesterday on the research of Phillip Karber, a Georgetown University professor, and an army of students who have used commercial satellite imagery, open-source Chinese materials, and internal PLA documents to track military tunneling projects across China. Karber’s conclusion is striking and controversial: the extent of the tunneling, he says, indicates that the number of PLA nuclear weapons could be vastly more than the 200 to 400 warheads that are usually cited by researchers. One of Karber’s more questionable sources suggests a total as high as 3,500.

Kaber’s story, originally reported by The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page in late October, has sparked a firestorm of controversy among China watchers and nuclear experts. The backlash from some sectors of the arms control community has been particularly bitter, with one commentator calling Karber’s work “incompetent and lazy,” comparing it unfavorably with his son’s high school research papers.

On Georgetown Team’s China Claims: More Tunnels, Yes. More Nukes? Not Necessarily. – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s Nuclear Arsenal Could be Many Times Larger Than Current Estimates

The Chinese have called it their “Underground Great Wall” — a vast network of tunnels designed to hide their country’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear arsenal.

For the past three years, a small band of obsessively dedicated students at Georgetown University has called it something else: homework.

Most of the attention has focused on the 363-page study’s provocative conclusion — that China’s nuclear arsenal could be many times larger than the well-established estimates of arms-control experts.

Georgetown students shed light on China’s tunnel system for nuclear weapons – The Washington Post

Current estimates for China range from around 100 to 300 nuclear weapons.