Even as the Obama administration enters the final phase of nuclear talks with Iran — hoping to have an agreement by month’s end — the U.S. military is not waiting around to see if those negotiations will succeed in halting Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, continues to come out with a series of defiant statements that chip away at supposedly agreed upon conditions for a comprehensive nuclear deal. And Secretary of State John Kerry — who has been one of the biggest advocates for some sort of accord, the terms of which seem to keep changing with every passing day — has just warned the U.S. is willing to walk away from the negotiating table.
And, assuming that the parties can come to some sort of an agreement, there’s the rather important matter of compliance. Iran has proven over the years that it isn’t particularly trustworthy; it may, of course, agree to put an end to its nuclear weapons program and then continue developing the bomb in heavily fortified underground facilities.
So, in the event the U.S. military needs to take action to stop Tehran’s nuke ambitions, one of the world’s largest non-nuclear bombs is reportedly being put through its final paces in the New Mexican desert. Some 20 feet long and weighing in at 15 tons, this Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, could be the powerful punisher that lets Iran know America means business.
As Politico reveals in a lengthy investigative piece on the MOP, this highly advanced weapon is a formidable big brother to the so-called “bunker buster” weapons the U.S. has used in Middle Eastern conflicts to penetrate and destroy underground targets.
Of the recent tests, Politico writes: “When dropped from an altitude likely above 20,000 feet, the bomb would have approached supersonic speed before striking a mock target in the desert, smashing through rock and burrowing deep into the ground before its 6,000 pounds of high explosives detonated with devastating force.”
The Politico piece quotes a former Pentagon official who has seen video of the tests at New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range: “It boggles the mind.” That video has not been made public, but a photo of one iteration of the weapon — officially known as BLU-109 — has been released by its maker, Boeing.
According to sources in the Air Force, as reported by Business Insider, the only aircraft currently capable of carrying the 15-ton MOP and dropping the GPS-guided bomb on its target is the B-2 stealth bomber, the key component of the nation’s long-range strike arsenal.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth