Israel has approved a budget of some 5 billion shekels ($1.5 billion) to be used to prepare the military for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear program, Channel 12 reported.
The NIS 5 billion budget is made up of NIS 3 billion from the previous budget and an additional NIS 2 billion from the next budget slated to be approved by the government in November,
It includes funds for various types of aircraft, intelligence-gathering drones and unique armaments needed for such an attack, which would have to target heavily fortified underground sites.
The report comes days after the US Air Force announced that it had carried out a successful test of its new “bunker buster,” the GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator.
According to Israeli media, the 5,000-pound bomb could be used as a tool to strike Iranian nuclear sites.
Crucially, the GBU-72 is designed to be carried by a fighter jet or a heavy bomber. The issue with the current generation of bunker busters is that Israel has no heavy bombers to carry the weapon, and they are hoping that the new one would allow their fighter jets to carry out the raids.
A smaller bunker buster bomb, the GBU-28, was secretly sold to Israel in 2009, though it is not thought to have the ability to penetrate Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility, which is buried deep under a mountain.
The series, planned by the 780th Test Squadron and performed by the 40th Flight Test Squadron, began on July 23 and marked the first time the 2.5-ton bomb was loaded, flown and released. https://t.co/16ylG30aRz
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) October 14, 2021
The American test was based on experience gained by Israel in its bombing of Hamas’s underground tunnel network in Gaza during May 2021’s hostilities.
Israel’s Channel 12 speculated that in publicizing its 35,000 foot-drop of the bunker-buster at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base, the US is seeking to warn Iran not to stay away from negotiations at Vienna aimed at reviving the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi told the Walla news site that Israel has “greatly accelerated” preparations for action against Iran’s nuclear program.
Kohavi said that “a significant chunk of the boost to the defense budget, as was recently agreed, was intended for this purpose. It’s a very complicated job, with much more intelligence, much more operational capabilities, much more armaments. We’re working on all these things.”
Kohavi had publicly declared in January that the IDF was preparing fresh “operational plans” for a potent military strike, and in August that Iran’s nuclear progress has prompted the IDF “to speed up its operational plans,” with a fresh budget to do so.
In his speech at the UNGA, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared that “Iran’s nuclear program has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance. Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning… We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
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