What Israel Didn’t Get in the Arms Deal

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, (R) accompanies Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, as he visits soldiers from the IDF Oketz unit, an independent canine special forces unit, in Israel, Tuesday. (Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defence/FLASH90)
A B-2 Spirit drops 500-pound bombs during a U.S. Air Force firepower demonstration at the Nevada Test and Training Range near Indian Springs, Nevada. (Getty Image)

Amid all the reportage this week about the missiles and aircraft for midair refueling in the new U.S.-Israel arms deal, The New York Times pointed out on Tuesday a significant omission — the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, better known as the bunker-buster, which could be vital to an effective air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities underground.

The MOP is so massive — it weighs about 30,000 pounds — that Israel would also have to acquire an aircraft capable of delivering it. That would be the B-2 bomber, the stealth aircraft that flew nonstop recently from Missouri to the Korean Peninsula to demonstrate America’s long reach.

The Obama administration has not been putting the B-2 on offer to the Israelis, either.

Both American and Israeli analysts think that such ordnance would be necessary to destroy the key Iranian nuclear fuel enrichment center at Fordo, which is buried more than 200 feet under a mountain.

Israel has requested the Massive Ordnance Penetrator in the past but was turned down. U.S. officials declined to comment on whether the year-long negotiations leading up to  the new arms package had included a discussion of the huge bomb.

Differences on the timetable for stopping Iran persist, the Times said.

“It’s all about timetables,” said Dore Gold, the president of the Yerushalayim Center for Public Affairs and a close advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“If you say the goal is to halt Iran in the enrichment phase, you don’t have much time. If you are waiting for Iran to weaponize” — the position the Obama administration has taken — “maybe you can give it another year or more.”

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