Iran War Watch: “Bunker-Buster” Edition

A GBU-28 "Bunker Buster" laser-guided bomb weighs roughly 5,000 pounds.<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USAF_F-15E_releases_GBU-28.jpg">TSGT Michael Ammons</a>/US Air Force

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Are the United States and Iran on a collision course over the Middle Eastern country’s controversial nuclear program? We’ll be posting the latest news on Iran-war fever—the intel, the media frenzy, the rhetoric.

During to a recent visit to Washington, DC, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly placed an order for a pair of hot items: GBU-28 “bunker-buster” bombs and some advanced refueling aircraft—weapons that would significantly improve the Israeli air force’s ability to take out Iran’s underground nuclear facilities. President Obama has since ordered Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to work closely with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hash out details of a potential sale, a senior US official told Haaretz. The report continues:

During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Following Obama’s entrance into the White House, however, the United States approves a string of Israeli requests to purchase advance armament.

Just a few months after Obama took office, the president quietly approved the transfer of over four dozen GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators. (At the time, some raised concerns that the sale might be perceived as “a green light for Israel to attack Iran’s secret nuclear sites one day.”) The Israeli government also currently maintains a limited stock of older, smaller bunker-busters, as well as a small number of refueling jets, all of which were bought from the United States.

American intelligence officials do, however, often acknowledge their uncertainty over how effective the Pentagon’s latest bunker-busting technology would actually be at penetrating the scattered subterranean chambers where the Iranian government is enriching uranium.

Also, there was a report this week in the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Ma’ariv—citing anonymous intelligence sources—that the Obama administration had proposed a deal to allow the weapons sale, in exchange for Netanyahu’s promise to hold off on an attack until 2013, after the messy election season winds down in November. But considering, for instance, that Israeli officials have openly floated the idea of not warning the Americans in the event of a preemptive airstrike on Iran’s nuclear installations, it’s likely that this alleged covenant is just one more bad rumor regarding regional tensions. (Naturally, at least one Israeli official has already dismissed it as such.)

Now, enjoy some classic footage of GBU-28 bunker-busters doing their thing:

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate