Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday the Pentagon had ready a bunker-busting bomb that could destroy Iran’s underground nuclear facility, in case the U.S. ever had to resort to a military option to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“We continue to improve it and upgrade over time so that there is this alternative,” Carter said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” referring to a weapon called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator.
U.S. and international negotiators have until June 30 to reach a final deal with Iran, which would exchange sanctions relief for limits on Iran’s nuclear program, which they believe is for a nuclear bomb.
Carter said though the Pentagon hopes the talks will successfully conclude, “We don’t know. My job as secretary of Defense is to, among other things, make sure that the so-called military option [is] on the table.”
Carter added that the U.S. has the capability to “shut down, set back and destroy” the Iranian nuclear program.
“I believe the Iranians know that and understand that,” he said. However, he indicated such an option could be futile, before defending the talks.
“If we were to do that, it is also important to think about what the next step would be. And as the president has indicated, they could over time than recreate a nuclear program; they would then be free of sanctions, of course, because this whole arrangement would have blown up. And we would be in a worse position then,” he said.
“So we could do it, and it would set back the Iranian nuclear program for some period of time. And what the objective of the negations has been to get that much certainty through negotiation rather than through military action, because the military action is reversible over time,” he said.
Carter also said inspections of military sites must be included in the final deal negotiated with Iran, despite recent remarks by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei indicating they would not be included.
“It depends on what you mean by military sites, but yes. Absolutely," he said.