by Carl in Jerusalem
Friday, May 03, 2013
U.S. officials see development of the weapon as critical to convincing Israel that the U.S. has the ability to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb if diplomacy fails, and also that Israel's military can't do that on its own.
Several times in recent weeks, American officials, seeking to demonstrate U.S. capabilities, showed Israeli military and civilian leaders secret Air Force video of an earlier version of the bomb hitting its target in high-altitude testing, and explained what had been done to improve it, according to diplomats who were present.
In the video, the weapon can be seen penetrating the ground within inches of its target, followed by a large underground detonation, according to people who have seen the footage.
The newest version of what is the Pentagon's largest conventional bomb, the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, has adjusted fuses to maximize its burrowing power, upgraded guidance systems to improve its precision and high-tech equipment intended to allow it to evade Iranian air defenses in order to reach and destroy the Fordow nuclear enrichment complex, which is buried under a mountain near the Iranian city of Qom. The upgraded MOP designed for Fordow hasn't been dropped from a plane yet.
The improvements are meant to address U.S. and Israeli concerns that Fordow couldn't be destroyed from the air. Overcoming that obstacle could also give the West more leverage in diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to curtail its nuclear program.
"Hopefully we never have to use it," said a senior U.S. official familiar with the development of the new version. "But if we had to, it would work."A few comments. First, the emphasis here continues to be on stopping Israel when the emphasis needs to be on stopping Iran. Obama still doesn't get that.
Second, who says Fordow is the only underground plant? Given that the US now admits they have no idea where Syria's chemical weapons are, who says that they know where all of Iran's underground nuclear facilities are?
Third, the Obama administration continues to delude itself that Iran can be 'convinced' to 'curtail' its nuclear program when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Iran is even considering doing so, when nothing Iran says can be trusted, and when Iran is ruled by an apocalyptic Ayatollah who is willing to send his country and everyone else around it back to the 8th century.
U.S. officials said they believe the enhanced U.S. bunker-busting capability decreases the chances that Israel will launch a unilateral bombing campaign against Iran this year and possibly next year, buying more time for the Obama administration to pursue diplomacy after Iran holds elections in June. Israeli officials declined to comment. Israeli officials maintain they reserve the right to attack Iran.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other senior American officials have told their Israeli counterparts in recent weeks that the Obama administration will look more closely at military options to deal with Iran's nuclear program after assessing the impact of those elections on Tehran's intentions.What do Iran's elections matter? The last time I checked, Ayatollah Ali Khameni isn't running and doesn't have to run. Why does anyone believe Obama and Hagel when they make those kinds of comments?
Israeli officials remain skeptical that the Obama administration is prepared to strike Fordow and other nuclear sites, according to current and former U.S. and Israeli officials. That skepticism, officials say, has fueled calls within Israel's government for a unilateral strike on Iran, even if Israel is capable of only setting back the nuclear program by a couple of years.
Israel still thinks its Air Force can do substantial damage to Fordow, according to Israeli and U.S. officials. U.S. intelligence agencies concur with that assessment. Mr. Hagel, during a visit to Israel last week, announced steps to supplement Israel's military capabilities, though it is unclear how soon the new weapons systems and aircraft will arrive.I wonder why Israeli officials are so skeptical. /sarc.
Read the whole thing.