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Small Northern Italian Town Hides the Largest Cold War Bunker in Europe

by Annamaria Schiano @ Corriere del Veneto

This is a translation of an original article from the Corriere del Veneto . To read the original go HERE.

In the small town of Affi there is the largest (and most solid) anti-atomic bunker in Italy. It can accommodate a thousand people and withstand a bomb of 100 kilotons, five times as much as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima Putin's invasion of Ukraine, threatening the use of nuclear weapons in the event of NATO intervention , has catapulted Italians into fear that the conflict could escalate into World War III. Or also, more "simply", that the bombings in progress can damage the Ukrainian nuclear power plants , among the most important in Europe, by releasing radioactive contamination. To the point that the psychosis of construction requests for anti-atomic bunkers in the private homes of those who can afford it has been triggered . But should the geopolitical situation worsen, where could the population take refuge? To date, practically nowhere, if not in Veneto, where West Star exists, the only anti-nuclear bunker in Italycapable of withstanding 100 kilotons, five times as much as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Built in the 70's

West Star was built in the early 1960s in the bowels of Mount Moscal in Affi: from 1966 to 2007 it was the largest anti-nuclear bunker in Italy, hosting the protected headquarters of the NATO command for the entire Cold War, from which military orders to the 'West. It covers an area of ​​13 thousand square meters and is located 150 meters underground. Affi is a small town of just two thousand inhabitants in the hinterland of Lake Garda, in the province of Verona. Its citizens are the only Italians to have become owners of the anti- atomic bunker, which was sold just four years ago, in March 2018, to the Municipality of Affi by the ministries of Defense and Finance. The site, to date, may be the only one in Italy to be reactivated "easily" , having been "shut down" only in 2010. How could it be reactivated? Former Commander De Meo We asked General Gerardino De Meo, former NATO commander and former West Star commander. "The bunker was built to accommodate up to a thousand people - he specifies - Unfortunately, however, at least the essential systems must be put back into operation, such as the hermetic closure of the anti-atomic doors and all the ventilation system that would allow people to breathe for many days". An intervention that, however, is not shared by the mayor of Affi, Marco Giacomo Sega, now owner of West Star. "It takes a lot of money to put the" hole "back into operation, as we used to call it - he says - but above all it cannot be done overnight, it takes at least a year. We believe, however, that in case of need it can be used for a few days as a refuge against traditional bombing, but reactivating it in a short time as a nuclear shield is unthinkable ”. "Even worse than the Cuban crisis"

- says General De Meo. But would you have ever thought we could go back to talking about nuclear conflict? “I never expected to have to relive the Cold War climate. And today it is even worse than the Cuban crisis , when the atomic danger was near ”. De Meo has been nourished by military strategy all his life and is pessimistic about the current international situation. «I see it very badly - he says - I do not see progress in the negotiations, Putin in the sea of ​​lies that he says aims only to conquer Ukraine . So I foresee the involvement of NATO which has deployed 150 thousand men on the border with Russia, where it is carrying out exercises like never before. In addition, the extraordinary plenum of NATO countries will be held in Brussels on 24 March, with Biden as well. There will certainly come out threats to Putin, such as: if you use chemical weapons we will intervene, and they can do it even beyond the borders of NATO countries in case of danger. And Poland borders with Ukraine ». De Meo does not rule out the risk of the use of atomic weapons. “In theory, yes, you can get there. It is my fear. If Putin is cornered, he becomes uncontrollable. I see the risk, unlike the Cold War where the threats were more bogeys than anything else ». Some consider it a catastrophic scenario. «I am preparing for the worst", is the general's reflection, "then I hope it will be useless, but the signals coming from Draghi's declarations and from the directive issued by the General Staff certainly do not leave us calm ». Very powerful modern bombs The question everyone is asking today is what would happen in the event of an atomic war. «I don't know how to answer. Affi's bunker can withstand 100 kilotons , but today's bombs can reach 10 megatons, which is a hundred times more than 100 kilotons. And if you think that that drop on Hiroshima was 15 kilotons, you do the math. But even less powerful bombs were used, from 40 to 70 kilotons, one of these is enough to wipe out a city like Milan ».

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