U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reportedly told his Israeli counterparts that the Obama administration would examine military options against Iran more closely following the Islamic Republic's upcoming elections, and their possible ramifications on the country's nuclear program.
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According to a report Friday in the Wall Street Journal, Hagel, together with other senior American officials, reached an understanding with Israel during the defense secretary's recent visit to Israel. Apparently, the two countries would conduct a joint situation assessment following the elections, and that if diplomatic channels are ruled out, efforts will be shifted to a more detailed discussion of military options.
The report also stated that the United States has redesigned its "bunker buster" bomb, that should be able to penetrate the underground nuclear enrichment facilities at Iran's Fordow plant.
According to the Wall Street Journal, senior American officials showed Israeli military and civilian leaders several times in recent weeks an Air Force video showing a test of an earlier version of the bomb, in an attempt to convince Israel to hold off on a unilateral attack on Iranian nuclear installations.
In the video, a bunker-buster is seen penetrating the ground within inches of its target, followed by a large underground detonation, people who had seen the footage told the Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal described the newest version of the U.S. largest conventional bomb as the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator, which has adjusted fuses to maximize its burrowing power, upgraded guidance systems to improve its precision and high-tech equipment for evading Iranian air defenses.
The Pentagon invested more than $400 million in developing the upgraded MOB, produced by the American company Boeing, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, the report also stated that the upgraded MOP has yet to be dropped from a plane.
U.S. officials were described by the report as viewing the development of the weapon a crucial element in convincing Israel that the United States has the ability to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb if diplomatic efforts fail and if the Israel Air Force lacks the capabilities to carry out the mission by itself.
"Hopefully we never have to use it," a senior U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal, "But if we had to, it would work."