By Jeremy Herb
The Pentagon is looking to build a bigger bunker-busting bomb to be prepared for a strike against Iran’s underground nuclear facilities.
The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend that the Pentagon had secretly submitted a request to Congress this month to upgrade the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb, which is designed to penetrate fortified underground locations before exploding.
The Pentagon has spent $300 million so far for 20 bombs, and is now asking for another $82 million for the upgrades.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said, “The development of this weapon is not intended to send a signal to any one particular country.”
President Obama and senior Pentagon officials have said that all options are on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, including a military strike.
Iran has refused to halt its uranium production, which it says it’s developing to produce energy. The United States and its allies say Iran is looking to build a nuclear weapon.
Iran recently moved uranium production facilities underground, and the United States and European Union have imposed economic sanctions against Iran to try and get the country to abandon its nuclear efforts.
A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Iran on Sunday, though there was plenty of skepticism about how much information the team would be able to gather.
The United States is also planning to send a ship that was initially slated for retirement, the USS Ponce, into the Persian Gulf to act as a “mothership” for special operations missions, according to published reports.
Iran had threatened to close down the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow passageway into the Persian Gulf, in response to economic sanctions. Iranian officials have warned U.S. ships not to re-enter the gulf, but a U.S. carrier went through without incident earlier this month.