|Benjamin Kerstein||January 30th 2012|
World Jewish Daily
In a bizarre development for a country whose military is routinely cited as the most advanced in the world, the United States is reportedly concerned that its bombs are not powerful enough to successfully attack Iran’s nuclear program.
A recent Wall Street Journal report revealed that the U.S. military establishment has concluded that its largest conventional bomb, the so-called “bunker buster” cannot effectively combat Iran’s defense tactics, which involve burying its nuclear facilities deep beneath the surface of the earth.
“The main concern,” YNet reports, “is Iran’s Fordow uranium enrichment site near the city of Qom. The facility … is located under a mountain.”
The bunker buster is so named because it is specifically designed to destroy underground structures such as bunkers. In contrast to standard munitions, which explode on impact, the bunker buster burrows deep into the earth before exploding. While they are not always more powerful than other bombs, their capacity to penetrate to great depth makes them especially destructive.
In order to deal with the challenges presented by the Iranians’ defense strategy, the U.S. military is apparently attempting a crash program in order to increase the bombs’ power and effectiveness.
The Pentagon this month secretly submitted a request to Congress for funding to enhance the bomb’s ability to penetrate deeper into rock, concrete and steel before exploding, officials said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Defense Department has spent about $330 million so far to develop about 20 of the bombs. The Pentagon is seeking about $82 million more to make the bomb more effective, according to government officials briefed on the plan.
The Journal’s story has apparently been confirmed by American officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is quoted as saying “we’re still working at” the bunker buster “because these things are not easy to be able to make sure that they will do what we want them to.”
In a surprising and potentially highly significant development, the Pentagon is reportedly examining possible alternatives to the bunker buster, namely, tactical nuclear weapons. “Once things go into the mountain,” an anonymous official is quoted as saying “then really you have to have something that takes the mountain off.”
The only available weapon capable of accomplishing this would have to be nuclear. Put simply, the explosive yield nuclear weapons can create with a relatively small amount of material dwarfs the capabilities of their conventional equivalents.
The MOAB, for example, the largest conventional bomb available to the U.S. military, has an explosive yield of 11 tons of TNT, and is so large that its deployment is almost completely impractical.
By contrast, the smallest nuclear weapon ever built, nicknamed the “Davy Crockett,” weighed all of 54 pounds and could pack an explosive yield equivalent to 20 tons of TNT, twice that of the MOAB.
Nonetheless, the U.S. will probably do everything in its power to avoid having to use a tactical nuclear weapon against Iran. Nuclear weapons have been used only twice since their invention, and a de facto taboo on their further use has been in effect for nearly 70 years. It is highly unlikely that the U.S. wants to be the first to break it.
Editor's Note: Rush development of the MOP super bunker buster was first reported by Edwin Black in the Cutting Edge News on September 21, 2009.