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Experts: Israel’s New Bunker-Busters Can Take Out Iran’s Nuke Plants


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A US Air Force (USAF) F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft in flight. (illustrative only)

A US Air Force (USAF) F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft in flight. (illustrative only)
Photo Credit: Wikimedia



In an article titled “Israel has the power to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities” published in the NY York Daily News, Berlin-based reporter Benjamin Weinthal argues that Israel has the military capability to launch a successful attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Weinthal, who is a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and has reported on European-Iranian relations for The Wall Street Journal Europe, Slate, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post and Der Tagesspiegel, says Israel should be able to attack Iran’s facilities successfully on its own,  largely because President Barack Obama has made good on President GW Bush’s promise, and “delivered untold numbers of GBU-28 bunker busters, which can tunnel through concrete before exploding deep underground. President Bush is also rumored to have sold Israel several midair refueling aircraft.”

According to Weinthal, “the vast military complex at Parchin, where Iran denied access to International Atomic Energy Agency inspections last month, has more than 100 buildings, many of which lie deep underground. The uranium enrichment complex at Natanz consists of both buried and ground-level buildings.

“A second enrichment facility is buried deep into the side of a mountain at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom. Burrowed under 300 feet of rock, the Fordo facility is located in a hardened tunnel.”

This is where successive bunker-busting attacks will be required, using GBU-28 bunker busters to knock out Iran’s entire nuclear program.

According to the Military Analysis Network, the Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) is a 5,000-pound laser-guided conventional munition that uses a 4,400-pound penetrating warhead. The bombs are modified Army artillery tubes, weigh 4,637 pounds, and contain 630 pounds of high explosives. The operator illuminates a target with a laser designator and then the missile is guided to a spot of laser energy reflected from the target.

“Writing in last month’s daily Die Welt, Hans Rühle, who directed the planning department of the German Defense Ministry from 1982 to 1988, expressed almost supreme confidence that Israel’s Air Force could obliterate Iran’s main nuclear sites,” reports Weinthal. “He believes that with 25 of its 87 F-15 fighter planes and a smaller deployment of F-16 jets, the Israelis could destroy all six of Iran’s key sites.”

When asked by the Jewish Press whether he shared Rühle’s assessment, in light of the military hardware required for the mission and the logistical difficulties that can befall such a complicated operation, Weinthal said:  “I would not describe [Rühle’s] views as excessively optimistic.  He clearly identifies the herculean task of destroying the Fordo plant, an enrichment facility that is buried deep into the side of a mountain … Israel’s Air Force has had a singleness of purpose over a period of almost four years in terms of confronting Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. And, contrary to the efforts by the U.S. Administration last month to undermine Israel’s military capacity to perform complex, long-range strikes, Israel’s pilots have the technology and firepower to obliterate Iran’s key facilities, with a view toward significantly setting  back Tehran’s nuclear program.”

“The one-two punch of surgical military strikes targeting Iran’s primary nuclear sites — coupled with a new round of hard-hitting economic sanctions—might just topple the regime,” Weinthal added.

Ideally, he concluded, “the best of all possible remedies would be a combined military operation to decimate Iran’s 25 to 30 military and nuclear sites, launched by a coalition involving the U.S. , the EU, Israel and perhaps some of the panic-stricken Arab countries, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Iran’s nuclear program is, after all,  an intolerable threat to the EU and the Sunni countries in the region.  It seems to me a military strike ought to be merged with an economic regime-change strategy. Iran’s clerical rulers are wedded to their nuclear arms program. Israel and its Western allies can, in the final analysis, only solve the nuclear crisis through the replacement of Iran’s reactionary and jingoistic leadership with a democratic government.

“Unfortunately, the crucial need to support the pro-democracy movement in Iran is vanishing from the policy and military discussions about Iran’s atomic weapons systems .”

Jacob Edelist

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