Israel has approved a budget of some 5 billion shekels ($ 1.5 billion) to be used to prepare the military for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear program, Channel 12 reported on Monday.
The NIS 5 billion budget consists of NIS 3 billion from the previous budget and an additional NIS 2 billion from the next budget which is to be approved by the government in November,
It includes funds for various types of aircraft, intelligence-gathering drones and unique weaponry needed for such an attack, which is expected to target heavily fortified underground sites, according to the unsourced report.
The report comes days after the US Air Force announced it had successfully tested its new “bunker buster,” the GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator. The 5,000 pound bomb could be used as a tool to strike Iranian nuclear sites.
Importantly, the GBU-72 is designed to be carried by a fighter jet or heavy bomber. Israel does not have bombers capable of transporting the enormous bunker breakers in the current American arsenal.
A smaller bunker bomb, the GBU-28, was secretly sold to Israel in 2009, although it is not believed to have the capacity to penetrate Iran’s deep-buried Fordo nuclear facility. under a mountain.
The series, planned by the 780th Test Squadron and carried out by the 40th Flight Test Squadron, began on July 23 and marked the first time the 2.5-ton bomb had been loaded, flown, and dropped. https://t.co/16ylG30aRz
– Stars and stripes (@starsandstripes) October 14, 2021
The US test was based on Israel’s experience bombing Hamas’s underground tunnel network in Gaza during the war last May, Channel 12 said.
The network speculated that by publicizing its 35,000-foot bunker drop at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the United States was seeking to warn Iran not to stay away from the negotiations. in Vienna aimed at reviving the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Iran withdrew from indirect talks with the United States last June and elected President Ebrahim Raisi, a supporter of the ultra-conservative hardline, who spoke out against the JCPOA, in the meantime.
Last month, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi told the Walla news site that Israel had “dramatically accelerated” preparations for action against Iran’s nuclear program.
Kohavi said that “a significant part of the increase in the defense budget, as recently agreed, was intended for this purpose. It’s very complicated work, with a lot more intelligence, a lot more operational capabilities, a lot more armaments. We are working on all of these things.
Kohavi had said publicly in January that the IDF was preparing new “operational plans” for a powerful military strike, and in August that Iran’s nuclear progress had prompted the IDF to “speed up its operational plans,” with a new budget to do so. .
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that “Iran’s nuclear program has reached a turning point, as has our tolerance. Words do not stop the centrifuges from spinning… We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.
The Biden administration says it is still seeking a joint US-Iran return to respect for the JCPOA, while acknowledging that it will not wait indefinitely for Tehran to return to the negotiating table.
If he doesn’t, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid that “all options” would be on the table – a slight increase in rhetoric after US President Joe Biden said to Bennett in August that Washington was prepared to consider “other options” if the JCPOA cannot be revived.