US defense chief on Iran nuclear facilities: Bunker buster bombs 'ready to go'

"We have the capability to shut down, set back and destroy the Iranian nuclear program and I believe the Iranians know that and understand that."

April 11, 2015 04:58
1 minute read.
Ashton Carter

Ashton Carter (C), US President Barack Obama (L) and US Vice President Joseph Biden (R).. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter addressed the possibility of a military option against Iran, saying that bunker busting bombs, meant to penetrate Iran's underground facilities, are "ready to go."

Speaking to CNN in an interview aired Saturday morning, Carter said that the deal between Iran and the P5+1, the basics of which were recently laid out in during negotiations in Switzerland, will hinge not on "trust but rather on "verification."

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"We have the capability to shut down, set back and destroy the Iranian nuclear program and I believe the Iranians know that and understand that," Carter said, indicating the US's willingness to utilize high-powered bombs if Tehran does not abide by the deal reached in the Swiss resort town where the various delegations were hosted during the eight day marathon negotiations. 

The reference to the Massive Ordinance Penetrator, or MOPS, whose reach extends 200 feet below ground, is the first that any American figure has made concerning substantive military planning against the Islamic Republic's fortified subterranean facilities.

One such facility is Fordow, near the city of Qom, where Iran maintains a facility dedicated to producing 20% enriched medium-grade uranium. Tehran insists that this would only be used for civilian purposes, a claim that has failed to assuage fears that it could then be further enriched to 90%, the necessary amount needed to produce weaponized material.

While he voiced a more hawkish tone than the White House, Carter echoed Washington's preference for a diplomatic solution, explaining that negotiations would actually be a more long-lasting method of ensuring a nuclear-bomb free Iran since "military action is reversible overtime."

Asked about another key factor affecting US interests int the Middle East, namely the White Houses' willingness to deploy ground troops against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, Carter suggested that the administration has not yet reached that conclusion, but that he "would not hesitate to give that advice."

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