By Dmitriy Shapiro/JNS.org/Washington Jewish Week
Alarmed by what they believe to be diplomatic failures by the Obama administration in nuclear negotiations with Iran, leading scholars of a Washington, DC-based think tank have proposed to have the United States provide Israel with the largest “bunker buster” bombs in the U.S. arsenal to help restore the administration’s leverage in its negotiations.
In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on April 8, Michael Makovsky, chief executive officer of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and a former Pentagon official—along with retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the former chief of Air Force intelligence and senior advisor to JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy—recommended that the U.S. provide the Israel Defense Forces with the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bombs.
Designed to bore deep into the ground before detonating rather than exploding on contact with the ground, the MOP would give Israel the ability to disable underground Iranian nuclear facilities if it deems that course of action necessary, in case the P5+1 nuclear negotiations in Geneva fail, the authors say.
According to Makovsky and Deptula, the administration has erroneously broken with sound negotiating judgment by eliminating deterrents that could have leveraged Iran to pursue meaningful negotiations. The Obama administration has taken a firm stance against efforts in Congress to add—or threaten to add—greater sanctions on Iran if a deal falls through. The administration believes additional sanctions will lose Iranian trust and cooperation in the negotiating process.
Additionally, they wrote, the historical deterrent used to back diplomacy—the threat of military action—is no longer credible.
“President Obama has already taken one potential source of leverage off the table by promising to veto legislation that threatens tighter economic sanctions on Iran,” Makovsky and Deptula wrote. “This leaves military pressure as the only option. But after the Obama administration’s unenforced ‘red lines’ in Syria and Ukraine, Iran is understandably dismissive of the threat of U.S. military action. That leaves Israel.”
The idea is not unusual in U.S.-Israel relations. In 2012, Congress passed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which declared that the U.S. would ensure that Israel maintains its “qualitative military edge” over its regional threats. President Barack Obama signed the law and assured Israelis that “[we] will do what it takes to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge—because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
The U.S. has already provided Israel with smaller, 2,000- and 5,000-pound bunker buster bombs—largely ineffective against Iranian nuclear targets—and recently delivered a KC-135 Stratotanker airplane to give Israel mid-air refueling capabilities.