US lawmakers propose sale of massive bunker-busting bombs to Israel

US lawmakers propose sale of massive bunker-busting bombs to Israel
2 min read
29 October, 2020
The proposal aims at supplying Israel with 30,000lb bombs capable of destroying underground Iranian nuclear facilities.
The massive bombs are deployed in B-2 stealth bombers not yet possessed by Israel [Getty]
US legislators are set to launch a bipartisan effort this week to promote the sale of bunker-buster bombs to Israel.

If successful, the proposed bill would require the US Department of Defence to consider the sale of 30,000lb (13.6 tonne) bombs capable of piercing heavily fortified underground facilities.

The proposal comes as Washington proposes to secure Israel's continued military advantage in the Middle East amid talk of the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates. Israel is currently the only state in the region to have acquired the stealth jet.

"We must ensure our ally Israel is equipped and prepared to confront a full range of threats, including the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran," Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer said in a statement on Tuesday.

Gottheimer is a co-sponsor of the bill, officially termed the US-Israel Common Defense Authorisation Act, alongside Republican lawmaker Brian Mast.

"Iran and its terrorist proxies throughout the region must never be able to threaten the US or Israel with a nuclear weapon. Truly, there should be nothing partisan about our national security, nor our relationship with our ally Israel," Gottheimer said.

Selling bunker-busting munitions to Israel would enable the US ally to "take out Iran's underground nuclear infrastructure", he added.

The announcement of the bill came as the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said Iran had begun construction on an underground nuclear facility.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Tehran was rebuilding an underground centrifuge assembly plant in Natanz, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

The previous centrifuge was destroyed earlier this year in what Iran describes as a sabotage attack.

Both Israel and the Trump administration fiercely oppose Iran developing nuclear capabilities.

"Congressman Gottheimer and I have worked together successfully in the past to pass the US-Israel Joint Missile Defense Act, and I'm confident that this bill will be another great bipartisan step toward preventing Iranian aggression against Israel and the United States," Congressman Mast said in a statement shared by Gottheimer.

The GPS-guided Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bombs are reportedly able to penetrate up to 200 feet of earth and 60 feet of concrete.

The 30,000lb munition is six times as heavy as the largest bunker-busting bomb Washington is known to have previously sold to Israel.

MOP bombs are designed to be deployed by a B-2 bomber, which Israel does not currently possess.

Washington has promised to retain Israel's "qualitative military edge" following a trio of normalisation agreements between Israel and Arab nations.

The decades-long principle of ensuring Israel remains the best-armed in the Middle East was enshrined into law in 2008.

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