U.S. may need 10-year delay nuclear deal provides to develop bunker-buster bombs to counter Fordow facility
Moreover, while Iran’s nuclear program will be frozen in place for over a decade, the United States and Israel will be free to strengthen their military capabilities. This will be especially important for Israel, which currently lacks the requisite aircraft and payloads to successfully destroy Iran’s Fordow enrichment plant, which is buried deep within a mountain.
The United States is more capable of bombing the enrichment plant. Over the past decade, it has developed the 30,000-pound massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) for the exact purpose of destroying underground facilities like the Fordow enrichment plant.
Still, it’s unclear if the MOP can successfully destroy all Iran’s nuclear facilities. The bomb can reportedly burrow through 200 feet of earth before exploding, but the Fordow plant is buried 250 feet below a mountain and likely reinforced with concrete. As late as 2012, the U.S. military conceded the bunker-buster MOP couldn’t destroy the Fordow plant.
The Pentagon’s current war plans reportedly call for dropping two bunker-buster bombs on top of each other in order to reach the enrichment plant. This requires excellent precision and, despite recent upgrades to the bomb’s internal guidance system, would be extraordinarily difficult to achieve in the fog of war. However, given all the progress the United States has made in building more powerful bunker-busters over the past decade, there is every reason to believe that Washington will have a bomb capable of destroying the Fordow plant in ten year’s time.