March 1, 2012
US Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz says the Pentagon has prepared military options to strike Iranian nuclear energy facilities.
Schwartz said that as far as the military options are concerned, Marine Gen. James Mattis, the Mideast combat commander who would oversee a potential war with Iran, “is satisfied that we have been as forthcoming and imaginative as possible” in the planning.
“We have an operational capability and you wouldn’t want to be there when we used it,” he said when asked about a 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb in a meeting with defense reporters on Wednesday.
The general, however, refused to comment if the MOP bomb could reach underground nuclear sites in Iran.
“Not to say that we can’t continue to make improvements and we are,” he said.
“The bottom line is we have a capability but we’re not sitting on our hands, we’ll continue to improve it over time,” Schwartz added.
The US and Israeli officials have intensified their anti-Iran war rhetoric in recent months to put more pressure on the country over its nuclear energy program.
Asked whether Iranian nuclear sites are immune to the US air power, Schwartz said, “It goes without saying that strike is about physics. The deeper you go the harder it gets.”
The general noted that the US arsenal “is not an inconsequential capability,” saying that the outcome of any preemptive attack would depend on the goal of the strike.
“What is the objective? Is it to eliminate, is to delay, is to complicate? I mean what is the national security objective. That is sort of the imminent argument on all of this,” he said.
The United States had previously portrayed its policy as one that attempted to engage Iran in negotiations over its nuclear energy program through various coercive measures such as the imposition of sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s oil sector and central bank.
However, a Wall Street Journal report revealed on Tuesday that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Tel Aviv officials have put the US President Barack Obama administration under pressure to adopt a more aggressive policy regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Netanyahu is also due to meet Obama in Washington on March 5 to discuss Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Iran has promised a crushing response to any military strike against the country, warning that any such measure could result in a war that would spread beyond the Middle East.