RUSI Defence SystemsVOLUME 23members only

Israeli Options for Direct Attacks on Iranian Nuclear Sites


Main Image Credit US Air Force, Boeing B-52H Stratofortress, Photographer: Anna Zvereva (Licence: Wikimedia Commons)


The Israeli government sees Iran’s nuclear programme as an existential threat. The Biden administration is attempting to re-open negotiations, but if these fail and Iran tries to produce a nuclear weapon then Israel might attempt to bomb Iranian nuclear sites. US supplies of new bombs and the B-52 bomber would be critical to any prospects of success.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) would face multiple challenges if it attempted strikes against Iranian nuclear sites, since most are hardened and well protected. The IAF has access to ‘bunker buster’ bombs, including the 5000 lb GBU-28, but these are unlikely to be powerful enough for this task. The US Air Force has developed the much larger 30,000 lb Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb specifically for attack capabilities against deeply buried Iranian (and North Korean)

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