The deal signed this week between the US and Israel includes advanced weapons systems, but the interesting note is in the item left out of the deal, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The paper said that the Israeli Air Force will not get bunker busting bombs which can pierce layers of cement at underground sites. These bombs are considered integral to a successful attack on Iran’s underground nuclear facilities.
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On Monday during his visit to Israel, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and his Israeli counterpart Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon emphasized their shared commitment to stopping Iran's nuclear program, also agreeing that it was preferable to break the stalemate via diplomatic measures.
But an advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the NYT that a gap still existed between the two countries: “The fundamental difference of views on how much risk we can take with Iran is re-emerging.”
The deal includes new refueling planes, combat plane radars, anti-radar missiles, V-22 Osprey transport plane-helicopters and advanced focused munitions bombs for the Air Force. On Sunday Hagel defined the deal as “a clear message to Iran.”
But Israeli and American experts agree that the bunker busting bombs which were left off the list are the only ones which have a chance of striking underground sites such as Fordo. The weight of each bomb is 13,608 kg, their length 6.2 meters, and they are capable of hitting bunkers at a depth of 61 meters. Each bomb can carry up to 2,400 kg of explosive materials.
Regardless, at this point the IAF does not currently posses jets capable of carrying the bombs. In order to transport bunker busting bombs, they would need to use B-2 Bombers, the planes which the US recently flew non-stop in an exercise from the US to the Korean Peninsula, in order to show North Korea that the US Air Force could indeed reach its nuclear bases.
During his visit, Hagel said that Israel had every right to defend itself. He added that Washington and Jerusalem had the same goal – to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability. Hagel noted that there were differences of opinion between the Americans and Israelis regarding when and if Iran will decide to complete its nuclear bomb, but added, “Iran presents a threat in its nuclear program and Israel will make the decisions that Israel must make to protect itself and defend itself."
In the past, the US had denied Israeli requests for bunker busting bombs. Senior US officials would not confirm to the New York Times whether the most recent negotiations included such a request. Instead, they emphasized that the deal included tanker jets that would enable the IAF to reach Iran, should that be necessary.
An Israeli request for such planes had been denied in the past, under the administration of former president George W. Bush.
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