BLITZER: Regarding Iran, a new report raises some disturbing possibilities about its nuclear program, and that’s prompting fears from the United States over how to respond.
Let’s bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, what are you learning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency suggests Iran could — could be hiding more secret nuclear sites, and that is raising the stakes on all sides.
STARR (voice-over): Iran’s once secret underground nuclear fuel enrichment plant. The Pentagon is worried Iran is now burying weapons factories so deep, that the current arsenal of bombs can’t reach them, leaving the U.S. with no viable military option if a strike was ever ordered.
This new Air Force 15-ton bomb may change that calculation.
JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: We’d certainly be able to take this out with a massive ordnance penetrator, the 30,000-pound boss.
STARR: This is the massive ordnance penetrator, or MOP, now being rushed into development to be carried on B-2 and B-52 bombers. The most likely targets? Iran and North Korea, which are believed to have buried weapons facilities hundreds of feet underground or into the sides of mountains.
PIKE: Some of those would probably require this massive ordnance penetrator simply because they are buried so deep and no other bomb would be able to certainly destroy them.
STARR: At 30,000 pounds, the MOP, some experts say, will be able to penetrate 650 feet of concrete, a significant boost over current bunker-busting bombs like the 2,000-pound BLU-109, which can penetrate just six feet of concrete, and the 5,000-pound GBU-28 which can go through about 20 feet of concrete.
GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: This has been a capability that we have long believed was missing from our quiver, our arsenal, and we wanted to make sure we’ve filled in that gap.
STARR: No air strikes against North Korea or Iran appear to be in the works, but Iran says it could start enriching uranium here in the next two years, and both the U.S. and Israel want to ensure that Iran cannot manufacture and assemble a nuclear weapon.
All of this has now led to more funding for the MOP. The Pentagon plans to have the first bombs available by December 2010, two years earlier than planned.
STARR: Now, the Pentagon likes to say it’s not helpful to speculate on future military targets, but certainly this weapon gives the Pentagon, Wolf, an option it hasn’t had before — Wolf.
BLITZER: It’s a huge, huge bomb, Barbara. Thanks very much for that.
Wolf was practically breathless with excitement as he marveled there at the end about what a big, big, powerful bomb that is. He looked like he was in need of CPR or some other type of relief. ”It’s a huge, huge bomb, Barbara.”
What possible reason could those crazy, irrational Iranians have for wanting to hide their nuclear facilities? It’s not like anyone’s threatening them or anything. And remember: the proof that Iran is a unique, Nazi-like threat is that they allegedly have people in their government that threaten other countries with military attacks. No responsible, civilized country would do that.
Iran’s evil intent is also demonstrated by their recent decision to allow IAEA inspectors to examine their Qom facility, which proved that there were no active centrifuges there, just as Iran said. Truly peaceful countries would never allow such inspections. So thankfully, we’re about to have “a huge, huge bomb” — bigger and better than all the ones we had before — that can take care of the Iranian menace once and for all.