In light of the administration’s increasingly threatening rhetoric on Iran, CQ reports that members of Congress are worried by Bush’s recent budget proposal. In particular, they cite his request to equip B-2 “stealth” bombers with a new 30,000-pound bunker buster as a “sign of plans for an attack on Iran”:
Buried in the $196.4 billion supplemental war spending proposal that Bush submitted to Congress on Oct. 22 is a request for $88 million to modify B-2 bombers so they can drop a Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, a conventional bomb still in development that is the most powerful weapon designed to destroy targets deep underground.
A White House summary accompanying the supplemental spending proposal said the request for money to modify B-2s to carry the bombs came in response to “an urgent operational need from theater commanders.” […]
Previous statements by the Defense Department and the program’s contractors, along with interviews with military experts, suggest the weapon is meant for the kind of hardened targets found chiefly in Iran.
The B-2 bomber and MOPs are reportedly choice weapons for strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. In January, the BBC reported that the administration had drawn up plans for “long range B2 stealth bombers” to “drop ‘bunker-busting’ bombs” in an effort to penetrate, for example, the Natanz enrichment facility in Iran.
The MOP has been in development for several years. After its completion, a U.S. military officer proudly described the destructive power of the bunker buster, specifically saying it could be used against Iran:
The U.S. has a 14-ton super bomb more destructive than the vacuum bomb just tested by Russia, a U.S. general said Wednesday.
The statement was made by retired Lt. General McInerney, chairman of the Iran Policy Committee, and former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.McInerney said the U.S. has “a new massive ordnance penetrator that’s 30,000 pounds, that really penetrates … Ahmadinejad has nothing in Iran that we can’t penetrate.”