Pentagon’s 30,000-pound bunker-buster ‘superbomb’ ready for use
27 July, 2012
The biggest conventional bomb ever developed is ready to wreak destruction upon the enemies of the US. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said its record-breaking bunker-buster has become operational after years of testing.
“If it needed to go today, we would be ready to do that,” said Donley. “We continue to do testing on the bomb to refine its capabilities, and that is ongoing. We also have the capability to go with existing configuration today.”
The Pentagon has spent $330 million to develop and deliver more than 20 of the precision-guided Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bunker-busters, which are designed to blast through up to 200 feet of concrete.
Although there has previously been a bigger nuclear device, the new conventional rocket is six times the weight of the previous bunker-buster used by the US Air Force, and carries an explosive payload of 5,300 pounds.
US military chiefs openly admitted the weapon was built to attack the fortified nuclear facilities of “rogue states” such as Iran and North Korea. Although the Pentagon insists that it is not aimed at a specific threat, unnamed officials within the ministry have repeatedly claimed the bomb is being tailor-made to disable Iranian nuclear facilities at Fordo, or at least to intimidate Tehran.
Iran is working at breakneck speed to expand its Fordo uranium enrichment facility, which is built inside a mountain in the heart of the country, and has previously been declared “impregnable” by senior officials in Tehran. Iran has often paraded its fast-advancing nuclear program, while denying that it intends to build a nuclear bomb.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon rapidly diverted $120 million in two separate tranches from other weapons programs to MOPs. The money was transferred to significantly redesign and upgrade the precision-guided missile to provide “an enhanced threat response” against the “deepest bunkers.”
Donley’s claim can be read as a reassertion of US determination to thwart Iran’s atomic ambitions.
Whether the MOP would be able to actually destroy Fordo is open to debate and may not be known by either of the sides.
The effectiveness of bunker-busters depends on the strength of the soil into which it plunges, how well it makes contact, and the internal structure of the facilities. In the case of Fordo, the US may only have a sketchy idea of its layout.
At best, the US believes a successful strike could set the Iranian program back several years, and, at worst, to at least collapse the passageways to the facility and force substantial rebuilding work.
Two bombs can be mounted simultaneously on a modified B-52 bomber, and a US official previously claimed the effectiveness of any operation would depend on how many “tries at the apple” the US bombers get.
A good defense helps ease the stress of combat and perhaps increases the chance of war.
" Israel is upgrading its Arrow II ballistic missile shield in a U.S.-backed "race" against Iran, Syria and other regional enemies, ... Arrow and Iron Dome, which shoots down short-range guerrilla rockets, were "designed to prevent wars".... "It is part of the technological race in the region," ... Iran on Saturday unveiled a new short-range missile which it said was capable of striking land and sea targets. ... "
Eye on Iran and Syria, Israel hardens missile shield
Aug 5, 2012
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel is upgrading its Arrow II ballistic missile shield in a U.S.-backed "race" against Iran, Syria and other regional enemies, a senior Israeli defense official said on Sunday.
The new "Block 4" generation of guided interceptor rockets, radars and technologies for synchronizing Arrow with U.S. systems was being installed in deployed Israeli batteries, a process that would take several weeks, the official said.
"The accuracy and the reach will be greater," the official said of Arrow, which has been operational since 2000 and is designed to blow up incoming missiles at altitudes high enough for non-conventional warheads to disintegrate safely.
"It is part of the technological race in the region," the official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Long jittery about Iran's disputed nuclear program, the Israelis have more recently worried the Syrian insurgency could loosen Damascus's hold on its chemical weapons and missiles.
Israel has threatened to attack preemptively in both countries, a prospect that could trigger wider war and clash with Washington's efforts to resolve the crises diplomatically.
Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, has repeatedly vowed to retaliate against any attack. "(Israel) knows that attacking Iran is an unattainable wish, unless the regime seeks to commit suicide," Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Sunday. The Pentagon and U.S. firm Boeing Co are partners in Arrow, an investment that the Obama administration hopes will help stay Israel's hand.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said last week that Israeli interceptors like Arrow and Iron Dome, which shoots down short-range guerrilla rockets, were "designed to prevent wars".
Arrow has scored a 80 percent to 90 percent success rate in field tests, system designer Uzi Rubin told Israel's Army Radio.
"It's always undergoing changes and improvements, as well as adaptations to new threats," Rubin said.
Iran on Saturday unveiled a new short-range missile which it said was capable of striking land and sea targets. Syria, for its part, last month went public with its chemical arsenal, saying it was intended for last-resort use against "external aggression".
Tehran also has Islamist guerrilla allies in Lebanon and Gaza who could shell neighboring Israel during any regional conflict. Their short-range rocket arsenals have been expanding and improving as well, the senior Israeli defense official said.
Having helped underwrite Arrow, the Americans were free to draw on its technologies for their own uses, the official said.
"The policy of the (Israeli) Ministry of Defense is to provide all data to the U.S., for the security of the U.S., including on targets, interceptors, radars and command and control," the official said.
With Congress also lavishing cash on Iron Dome, some U.S. lawmakers have called on Israel to share that system, too.
The Israeli official said that though Iron Dome was different to Arrow as it was developed entirely by Israel, the current policy was to provide the Americans data upon request while a more permanent arrangement is negotiated.
In parallel to Arrow II, Israel is developing Arrow III, which is due to be operational in 2014 or 2015. Unlike previous generations of the interceptor, Arrow III will engage incoming missiles in space, using detachable warheads that, turning into "kamikaze" satellites, will seek out and slam into the target.
Israel is also working on a more powerful rocket interceptor than Iron Dome, known as David's Sling or Magic Wand, which is due out next year. Meshed together and with U.S. counterparts, the three Israeli systems would form a multi-tier shield providing several opportunities to intercept incoming missiles.
Unnamed diplomatic sources ... plus a report ... this could be tabloid journalism
It could be purposely leaked rumors leading to war ...
I have not decided how valuable that I consider this Iran 'noise' on nukes ... perhaps as 'chatter'
New intelligence reveals Iran closer to attaining nuclear weapon than previously thought
Western diplomat who asked not to be named says U.S, Britain, France, Germany and Israel agree on that assessment.
By Barak Ravid | Aug.07, 2012 | 1:37 AM
Bushehr nuclear power plant in IranPhoto by AP
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New intelligence information obtained by Israel and four Western countries indicates that Iran has made greater progress on developing nuclear weapons than the West had previously realized, according to Western diplomats and Israeli officials who are closely involved in efforts to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.
A Western diplomat who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to discuss intelligence information said the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Israel agree on that assessment.
According to the source, this assessment began to take shape in February, when Iran refused to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the base at Parchin, where it is believed Iran is carrying out part of the research and development of its military nuclear program. Visits of IAEA inspectors in Iran, and especially revelations of information the Iranians had been trying to hide, intensified suspicions that Tehran was developing nuclear weapons at a faster pace than it had previously seemed.
Last month Britain's Daily Telegraph reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has established a new team of 60 nuclear scientists to develop Iran's military nuclear program at the Lavizan base near Tehran. In 2006, IAEA inspectors visited that base, which belongs to the Guards' missile development agency.
The Daily Telegraph based its report on information from the Iranian opposition group Mujahideen al-Khalq. Members of the group told the paper that the work of the Iranian scientists in the "weapons group" is at an advanced facility involved warheads and detonators.
An American think tank called the Institute for Science and International Security released a satellite photo of the Parchin base showing, according to Western intelligence, that Iran is developing nuclear weapons there. Taken on July 25 and released on August 1, the picture shows that the Iranians have completed what the American think tank called "cleanup" of the site where the base was.
According to researchers at the institute, the photos they received show that the Iranians have bulldozed a number of structures at the base and leveled the surrounding land, which the institute's staff suspect was done to erase evidence of nuclear activity at the site.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said in a closed meeting last week that he was not deterred by the prospect of an inquiry committee investigating a possible Israeli attack on Iran.
Iran's defense minister, General Ahmad Vahidi, told reporters in Tehran that an Israeli attack on Iran "is impossible unless the Zionist entity wants to commit suicide ... Iran is completely prepared to respond to an attack against it."
The Ugandan option
Netanyahu told U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that an Israeli or American military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities was likely to help topple the ayatollah regime, just as the 1976 Entebbe raid led to the defeat of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, according to a senior Israeli official.
The comment came when Romney asked Netanyahu during their July 29 meeting in Jerusalem whether he thinks an Israeli attack on the nuclear facilities would unite Iranians, ultimately strengthening the regime, the official said.
In explaining why he thinks that would not happen, Netanyahu recounted what he said was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's statement to him that the raid ultimately led to Amin's downfall three years later.
"Ugandan President Museveni told me the Entebbe raid was a turning point in the effort to topple Idi Amin," the Israeli official quoted Netanyahu as saying. "He said the operation strengthened Amin's rivals because it revealed how vulnerable his regime was."
Museveni made the comments when Netanyahu visited Uganda in 2005 to dedicate a memorial for his brother Yoni Netanyahu, the commander who was killed while rescuing 100 hostages from pro-Palestinian hijackers at Entebbe airport in Uganda, the official said.
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