Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nukes To Iran

B-2 Dropping B61 NukeJournalist and occassional conspiracy theorist Seymour Hersh reports that the US is considering attacking Iran with nukes. More specifically, he claims that President Bush is demanding that the US military develop an option for taking out hardened bunkers in Iran's nuclear infrastructure with B61-11 tactical nuclear bombs.

I have some fleeting experience with the old B61 tac nuke, called "The Silver Bullet" because it looked like a shiny Mk-82 conventional 500 pound bomb and because it packed enough punch to take out any threat you faced. It was perfect for clearing out enemy airfields.

This new model appears to be a modification of the old bomb. After all, these things are hand-made and cost millions of bucks. You can't just toss them away. Recycle! It looks like the Air Force has modified 750 old model 7s into model 11s. There are about 300 nuclear development sites in Iran. Perhaps a fraction of those are hardened. That means that perhaps a few dozen B61s could be used to gut the Iranian nuke program with plenty left over to use in North Korea, should the need arise.

The -11 modification kept the guts of the bomb but has given it a stronger case and cut away the parachute that slowed it down so that the delivery aircraft could fly clear of the blast. This nuke is meant to smack the target with the maximum kinetic energy and burrow in to detonate beneath the surface. When the yield is set for 10 kilotons and the bomb detonates four feet below the surface, the shock wave can crush a bunker buried under a hundred yards of layered rock. That's bad news for bad guys hiding in their burrows like rats huddled around their nasty little nukes.

The Bush administration is strongly denying Hersh's accusation and Hersh is often half-baked and biased against America in his criticism and sloppy in his documentation. However, it would be crazy if the military was not developing a contingency plan for striking Iran. That's what the Pentagon does all year round: develop contingency plans for war, almost all of which gather dust and are never used. In such a contingency plan, certainly there is an option to use bunker-busting tac nukes. The decision to use them is political. I don't doubt that if we know where the Iranian nuke sites are located, we can take them out. I hope it doesn't come to that, but I think I'm hoping in vain.


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