by Ed Sawicki - August 7, 2015 (updated August 26, 2015)
USAF B-52H drops a GBU-57A-B MOP demonstrator on a flight test. Photo: USAF
On August 6, 2015, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) published an essay titled My Position on the Iran Deal that gives his reasons for voting against the deal. This article will focus on one aspect of Schumer's argument that he mentions in passing but doesn't follow to its logical conclusion. This will show that Senator Schumer supports Benjamin Netanyahu's desire that the United States spend its military lives and treasure instead of Israel.
Senator Schumer credits President Obama with "far-sighted focus that led our nation to accelerate development of the Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP), the best military deterrent and antidote to a nuclear Iran." Although Schumer doesn't say it explicitely, he's crediting the president with having a Plan B in case the Iran deal is blocked by Congress. Schumer wants the Plan B to be the Plan A and he's willing to vote against diplomacy to make it happen.
First, you need to know what the MOP is. It's officially called the GBU-57A-B and is the most powerful bunker-buster bomb in the U.S. Air Force arsenal. It's needed to destroy Iran's underground Fordow nuclear facility. It weighs 30,000 pounds and carries 5400 pounds of non-nuclear explosives. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding. There are now twenty MOPS in Air Force inventory. Each costs more than $3 Million.
Only two heavy bombers in the Air Force inventory can carry the bomb - the B-52 and the B-2. The Air Force has already modified some or all of its fleet of twenty B-2 bombers to carry two MOPs. No other country has B-52s or B-2s in their inventories - certainly not Isreal.
If MOP weapons need to be used against Iran's Fordow facility, it will have to be the United States that delivers them. There are a few problems Senator Shumer hasn't mentioned. The first is that Iran's Fordow nuclear facility is deeper than 200 feet. Military experts say that several MOPs may be needed to do the job and it's possible that they can't.
Russian-made S-300P missiles. Photo: EllsworthSK
The second problem is that Iran will buy long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia this year. These are far more effective weapons than the SA-3 missiles that couldn't prevent U.S. aircraft from attacking with impunity during the first Gulf War. The S-300 can target aircraft flying at up to 1300 mph at a distance of 90 miles or more. The B-2 flies at only 630 mph. In spite of its stealth, it's not guaranteed that B-2s will escape unharmed and they cost about $1 Billion each.
This second point should be taken seriously given that a Syrian S-300 is reported to have shot down an Israeli F-16 on August 21, 2015.
If the MOP weapon is "the best military deterrent and antidote to a nuclear Iran", why not use it as a deterrent? What's the harm in giving diplomacy a chance? The U.S. can use MOP if the deal goes bad.
Schumer, Netanyahu, and the Republican Congress prefer the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war against a country that has already agreed to our demands.