Alex Fishman, Yediot’s security correspondent, reports that the Pentagon spent millions of dollars to build an exact replica of an Iranian underground nuclear facility in the U.S. I presume we’re talking about the Fordo complex. It then armed a B-2 bomber with a new type of bunker buster bomb, which was used to great success in entirely destroying the facility. The goal of the field exercise was to prove to U.S. allies (read, “Israel”) that our military had sufficient weaponry and delivery capability to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat if and when we decided that this was necessary. In other words, the mission was to remove any possibility that Bibi Netanyahu could argue that Israel had to do the job itself because the U.S. either couldn’t or wouldn’t.
Fishman describes in great detail the provisions for the test, indicating he had a very knowledgeable source. I’m guessing it was either Dan Shapiro or perhaps the U.S. military attaché. There is also a chance his sources were within the Israeli military: specifically those opposed to a unilateral Israeli strike. That might explain why, in his article he never mentions the test was meant to convince Israeli officials. He uses the oblique term, “friendly states” to describe Israel. This might indicate he was skirting the military censor.
Fishman reports the Pentagon test involved the most advanced version of bunker buster bomb, first developed in July 2012. It’s named the GBU 57B and is so heavy it can only be delivered by a B-2 bomber. The bomb succeeded in penetrating not only the dirt and rock protective barriers, but the concrete roof of the underground facility. What remained was an entirely obliterated complex.
Though the U.S. was loath to use one of the special new weapons because of its extremely high $3.5-million cost (the overall cost of developing the new weapon was $500-million). The military determined that it would be money well spent if it could persuade Israel to restrain itself from an attack. The size of the munition was six times greater than any other known bunker buster. It weighs 13 tons and has a speed of penetration two times greater than the speed of sound at a rate of accuracy of five meters.
American officials meeting with their Israeli counterparts have assured them that looming cuts in the defense budget will not effect this program, which is one of the president’s top priorities.
As with almost everything regarding Iran, Israel and the U.S., much is play-acting and posturing. This announcement too is part of the game. Obama understands the absolute mess an Israeli attack would cause. He can see how unstable the region is with Syria currently in shambles. The last thing he needs is yet another match lit under this tinderbox. So he tells his generals to prepare a grand field demonstration of American might that will persuade the IDF, and more importantly the war-party within the current government, that it doesn’t need to attack, since we can do the job quite nicely, thank you.