Friday, December 2, 2011
US offers 'bunker busters' to United Arab Emirates over Iran threat
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has proposed selling 600 "bunker buster" bombs and other munitions to the United Arab Emirates, which lies across the Gulf from Iran, to deter what it called regional threats.
Iran is widely suspected of seeking to develop nuclear arms through a program that Tehran says is for peaceful power generation only.
The proposed $304 million sale would include 4,900 tail kits built by Boeing Co that turn unguided free-fall bombs into guided weapons and 4,300 "general purpose" bombs, theDefense Department said in a mandatory arms sale notice dated Wednesday.
The deal would boost UAE's ability "to meet current and future regional threats" and to help deter aggression, the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in the note to lawmakers.
The BLU-109 "Hard Target Penetrator" bomb, or bunker buster, is a 2,000-pound (900-kg) weapon designed to smash into buried enemy command posts, munitions depots and other hardened targets before using a delayed fuse to explode.
Iran's nuclear facilities are widely dispersed around the country, some of them in fortified bunkers underground.
Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, is a tail section containing technology that uses global positioning system (GPS) data to home in on a target from up to 15 miles away.
UAE operates Lockheed Martin Corp's F-16 "Block 60" fighter aircraft, the most advanced F-16 model flown.
Lawmakers have 30 days to accept or reject a foreignmilitary sale after formal notification. None has been rejected to date after formal notification.
"The UAE government continues vital host-nation support of US forces stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base, plays an important role in supporting US regional interests, and has proven to be a valued partner in overseas operations," the notice to Congress said.
The top US military officer said on Wednesday he did not know whether Israel would alert the United States ahead of time if it decided to take military action against Iran.
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters that sanctions and diplomatic pressure was the right path to take on Iran, without ruling outmilitary action as a last resort.