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Israel renews appeal for advanced bunker-busters


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World Tribune:

Israel is persisting with its repeated requests for advanced air-to-ground penetration bombs from the United States.Officials said Defense Minister Ehud Barak has again raised Israel's request for an advanced bunker-buster from the United States. They said Barak, who met Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor James Jones, argued that such a weapon was crucial to protect against Iran's emerging nuclear weapons program.
"We have been rejected several times, but we still need this," an official said.
The Israeli request for bunker-busters was first submitted in 2006 to the administration of then-President George Bush. Officials said Bush, concerned over an Israeli air strike on Iran, vetoed the request.

Instead, Israel was granted approval for tactical bunker-busters, including the GBU-28, GBU-39 and M141. Most of the weapons were held up by Bush's successor, President Barack Obama, who entered office in January 2009.

But the weapons approved by Bush were not deemed strategic or capable of penetrating the bunkers built in Iran or Syria. In 2008, Israel, for example, was denied a request for a scaled-down version of the so-called Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 15-ton weapon meant to punch through more than 4,000 kilograms of reinforced concrete.

Officials said Barak, who visited Washington on Sept. 21-22, has sought the advanced bunker-busters as part of any Israeli agreement for a withdrawal from the West Bank and much of Jerusalem to establish a Palestinian state by 2012. They said the defense minister was seeking strategic weapons and guarantees from the United States that any withdrawal would not exacerbate the threat by Iran and Syria as well as their proxies.

"The situation now is that Iran and Syria are rapidly arming themselves with improved missiles and air defense systems, some of which are being transferred to Hizbullah," the official said. "We can't be left behind.
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