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Pentagon Upgrades 'Bunker-Buster' to Combat Iran - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A 2009 satellite image shows a suspected nuclear facility being built in Iran. (Associated Press)

A 2009 satellite image shows a suspected nuclear facility being built in Iran. (Associated Press)


London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The US has upgraded the world’s largest conventional bomb, known as the “bunker buster”, to serve as an effective military option against Tehran’s nuclear program, reports claim.

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported that the Pentagon has upgraded the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb with a new design of explosive fuses; this will allow the bomb, if deployed, to penetrate the depths of the Fordow mountain complex where Iran is enriching uranium that could be used to make a nuclear bomb.

Weighing 30,000 pounds and a reported third bigger than the MOAB (GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Burst), officials are certain MOP can be deployed effectively to take out underground Iranian nuclear facilities.

Pentagon officials are reported to have shown video of the extensive upgrade to the world’s largest bomb to their Israeli counterparts in an effort to reassure them that Washington is taking the Iranian nuclear threat seriously, and that it has effective military options in this regard.

A second report in the Wall Street Journal revealed that engineers have also installed cyber warfare capabilities to the device, ensuring that Iran would not be able to knock it off target after it has been dropped from a B2 stealth bomber.

The latest version of MOP reportedly 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 air defences.

The report stressed that “US officials see development of the weapon as critical to convincing Israel that the US has the ability to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb if diplomacy fails,” adding that this is something that the Israeli military cannot accomplish unilaterally.

Shashank Joshi, a member of the Rusi defence think tank, told the Telegraph that this is a “clear signal to Iran but also to Israel from the US that really serves to restrain them, saying we can take responsibility for this so you don’t have to.”

“If we had to, it would work,” a US official familiar with the development of the bomb told he Wall Street Journal, adding, “hopefully, we never have to use it.”

The upgraded MOP was redesigned specifically to target Fordow nuclear enrichment complex, buried deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom. This facility had previously been deemed “impenetrable” with conventional weapons and is a key location for the enrichment of materials needed for nuclear bombs.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby denied that the bombs are specifically designed to target Iran, saying: “The system is not aimed at any one country, it’s to develop a capability we believe we need.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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