Saddam's Bunkers Said 'Impossible' to Destroy
By Nedim Dervisbegovic
SARAJEVO (Reuters - 25 March) - Underground bunkers built for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein can resist massive bombardment and those hiding inside could survive for up to six months, a retired Yugoslav army officer who helped build them said.
"I believe that if Saddam does not leave, and I think he has nowhere to go, they will find him in one of these facilities -- if he does not find a way out by then," retired Lt. Col. Resad Fazlic told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. "These bunkers can resist a direct hit of a 20 kiloton- strong bomb or atomic bomb impact and keep those inside independent of the outside world for six months," said Fazlic, who oversaw the building of the bunkers in the late 1970s.
U.S.-led forces started their six-day-old air and land assault aimed at ousting the Iraqi leader by hitting his compound in Baghdad.
It was not clear if the compound that was hit was one of the two in the Iraqi capital that, Fazlic said, were built for the Iraqi leader.
"I did not take part in the building of this bunker, code-named "2000," but I know it is larger than others, about the size of a soccer pitch, and has everything he might need for a longer stay inside," Fazlic said, referring to one of the Iraqi leader's bunkers.
Fazlic said underground concrete fortresses were built by the former Yugoslav military in the cities of Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Basra and Nassiriya after Iraqi officials toured similar facilities in former Yugoslavia.
"We also built the so-called "zero," "P" and "C" types of bunkers which were smaller and meant for the military, communications centers and so on but can also resist heavy bombardment and longer isolation," he said.
Fazlic said he took part in the building of more than a dozen underground bunkers in former Yugoslavia which was then led by late President Josip Broz Tito, who had warm relations with Saddam Hussein.
"We built all of these facilities in Iraq because they liked what they saw here," Fazlic said, citing a large bunker dug into a mountain near the southern Bosnian town of Konjic that was meant for the former Yugoslav government in case of war.
"It was a little bit more difficult in Iraq because of the flat terrain. But you would use a valley, dig at the bottom of a hill, build a bunker and than cover it so it can't be spotted from outside," he said.
"The most important thing was to design the main bunker and all those layers above it which were the main protection. Even if you only had to penetrate the main bunker with a missile it would have to impact it at the angle of 90 degrees, otherwise it would ricochet off its rounded surface," he said.
"But before that, it would have to go through protective layers ... and to calculate all the right angles for impact and fire several successful hits in line is almost impossible," he added.
The bunkers also had their own air filtration systems and alternative exits in case the main entrance was blocked. They could only be opened from inside, Fazlic said.