To Deter Iran, America Should Give Israel a Big Bomb

July 26, 2021 | Dennis Ross
About the author: Dennis Ross has served in senior positions in several administrations, most recently (2009-2011) as a special assistant to President Barack Obama. His new book is Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama.

Under the current circumstances, it seems unlikely, writes Dennis Ross, that Washington will succeed in negotiating a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran—and even if it does, it is even more unlikely that the Biden administration will be able to make good on its promise to negotiate a “longer and stronger” version of the deal. Ross thus suggests a simple way to make clear to the Islamic Republic the risks of continuing to pursue a nuclear weapon:

[T]he Biden administration should consider providing Israel the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound mountain-buster, as some in Congress have advocated. Such a weapon could be used to destroy Fordow, the underground Iranian enrichment facility, as well as other hardened nuclear sites.

Of course, the White House would need to reach a firm understanding with the Israelis about triggers for the bomb’s use. But being prepared to provide Israel with such a fearsome weapon and leasing the B-2 bomber to deliver it would send a powerful message. The Iranians may doubt whether the U.S. would follow through on its threats; they won’t have any trouble believing the Israelis will.

In fact, providing the GBU-57 to Israel may be the best inducement for Iran to negotiate a “longer and stronger” deal. Only then might the regime accept that the U.S. is serious about preventing Iran from acquiring [nuclear]-threshold status—and that Iran risks its entire nuclear infrastructure in the absence of an agreement limiting it. Under such circumstances, Iran’s leaders will have an incentive to get something now for accepting an outcome that the U.S. and Israel might otherwise impose.

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