- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
President Obama often talks about all options being on the table when it comes to confronting Iran over its nuclear program, but what’s going on underneath this most mysterious of tables? The United States is preparing for a possible military conflict with Iran, among other things.
The Hill reports that top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee are spearheading an effort to divert defense dollars in the upcoming fiscal 2013 budget toward weapons systems and programs that could be used in a confrontation with Tehran.
Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has previously said he will seek “things like powerful bunker-busting munitions, countermeasures for mines, and appropriate sensor and intelligence platforms.” Earlier this month, an Air Force general declared that a new 30,000-pound bunker-buster bomb that can penetrate 200 feet of concrete would be a “great weapon” again Iran. The fearsome and appropriate name of the beast? The Massive Ordnance Penetrator bomb.
Iran meter: The congressional funding effort isn’t the only indication that the U.S. military is preparing for a potential showdown with Iran. The U.S. Navy has doubled the number of mine-hunting vessels in the Persian Gulf and equipped its warships with Gatling guns, according to The Hill.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that U.S. Central Command is beefing up its military capabilities against Iran by “fielding new laser target-trackers for machine guns, enhanced sensors for underwater vehicles, improved protection against drone attacks, and upgrades of U-2 spy planes” through “reprogramming” requests. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the Pentagon is exploring several military options.
Sure, it’s not particularly surprising that the U.S. military is engaging in contingency planning. But Obama has emphatically dismissed the idea of containing a nuclear Iran, and a U.S. war game this month highlighted what U.S. officials already knew all too well — that a unilitaral Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities could spark a regional war. If the United States concludes that sanctions have failed to blunt the Iranian nuclear threat and that an Israeli strike is too dangerous, we could be hearing a lot more about that Massive Ordnance Penetrator.
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.| Passport |
Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge.| The E-Ring |