Reblogged from JP http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report
Improvement of 'Massive Ordnance Penetrator' was carried out even as nuclear talks with Iran continued, 'Wall Street Journal' reports.
The Pentagon has been upgrading the biggest bunker-buster bomb in its arsenal even as talks continue over Tehran's nuclear program, readying a weapon that could destroy Iran's facilities if negotiations fail, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Work to improve the design, guidance systems and anti-jamming capabilities on the so-called Massive Ordnance Penetrator began before the latest round of negotiations with Iran started.
The most recent test of the 30,000-pound device was in mid-January, the Journal said.
The bomb was created to give US President Barack Obama options for attacking fortified facilities like Iran's Fordow nuclear installation, which is built into a mountain.
As part of the partial nuclear framework agreement reached between world powers and Iran on Thursday, "Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years," according to the US fact sheet on the initial deal.
The Journal quoted a US official as saying that, despite the efforts to diplomatically solve concerns over Iran's nuclear program, "The Pentagon continues to be focused on being able to provide military options for Iran if needed.We have not taken our eyes off the ball."
The tentative agreement, after eight days of marathon talks in Switzerland, clears the way for negotiations on a settlement aimed at allaying Western fears that Iran was seeking to build an atomic bomb and in return lift economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The framework is contingent on reaching an agreement by June 30. All sanctions on Iran remain in place until a final deal.
Many details still need to be worked out. Diplomats close to the negotiations said the deal was fragile. It could not be ruled out that the understandings reached could collapse between now and June 30. Experts believe it will be much harder to reach a final deal than it was to agree the framework accord.
The White House has made clear that other contingencies must be in place should nuclear diplomacy break down.
“If you say all options are on the table, you have to have something on the table that’s credible,” the Journal quoted a senior US official as saying.