Big Blu for Tehran?
Actually that last paragraph is dead wrong in terms of the machinery being in place for an attack. When it happens it won't be just B-2's dropping Big Blu's. Many Air Force strike aircraft would have to be flown into position to hit additional targets and the Navy would need more carriers in the region to protect ships in the Persian Gulf. It will take a large force to hit 1000 targets in a timely manner that will make it difficult for Iran to lash back.
In the white desert sands of New Mexico, close to where the first atom bomb was detonated, America’s biggest conventional weapon was tested last spring. A 30,000lb massive ordnance penetrator, known as the Big Blu or the Mother of All Bombs, was placed inside a tunnel to test its explosive power against hard, deeply buried bunkers and tunnels designed to conceal weapons of mass destruction.
The monster bunker-buster was so heavy, it could not fly. But the blast was a huge success, rippling through the tunnels and destroying everything in its wake.
Today the Big Blu might as well have “Tehran” written on its side in the same way that the Iranians love to parade missiles marked “Tel Aviv”. Tucked away in an emergency defence spending request, the US air force has just asked Congress for $88m to equip B2 stealth bombers, the black warriors of the skies, with racks strong enough carry the huge bomb.
This was no casual request, but an “urgent operational need from theatre commanders”, according to the air force. Even a Republican congressman fretted: “This whole thing . . . reminds me of the movie Dr Strangelove.”
But nobody is sure whether the president really will add a risky third front to the Afghan and Iraq wars that are already overstretching US forces.
“If you’d asked me a year ago, I’d have said yes,” said John Bolton, the hawkish former US ambassador to the United Nations. “Today I’d say, I don’t know.”
It is clear the military machinery for an attack is being put into place. More than 1,000 targets have been identified for a potential air blitz against Iran’s nuclear facilities, air defences and Revolutionary Guard bases, despite claims last week by Robert Gates, the defence secretary, that the planning was merely “routine”.
I suspect that the appropriation while serious is another message to Tehran of that seriousness. I also suspect that Iran is immune to any message strategies. Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph says Ahmadinejad is making his own preparations for war.
I still think the chances of an attack in the coming weeks are remote unless there is a new provocation.