Two bipartisan House legislators will introduce a bill in the US Congress this week that would require the US Department of Defence (DoD) to consider selling Israel bunker-buster bombs capable of penetrating heavily fortified underground facilities, one of the bill’s sponsors announced on Tuesday.
The bill, which is aimed at bolstering Israel’s military advantage and providing it with protection from perceived Iranian hostility, comes after Israel and the US signed a series of agreements aimed at guaranteeing Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the region.
“We must ensure our ally Israel is equipped and prepared to confront a full range of threats, including the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran,” Congressman Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat, said in a press release on Tuesday.
“That’s why I’m proud to be introducing this new bipartisan bill to defend Israel from Iran and Hezbollah and reinforce our historic ally’s qualitative military edge in the region with ‘bunker buster’ munitions.
“Iran and its terrorist proxies throughout the region must never be able to threaten the US or Israel with a nuclear weapon.”
Along with Congressman Brian Mast, a Republican who is co-sponsoring the bill, Gottheimer is expected to introduce the bill to Congress on Friday.
The legislation would potentially allow the US to sell Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bunker-busters, a GPS precision-guided bomb – to Israel, reported the Middle East Eye news website.
The GBU-57 is 20.5 feet long, 31.5 inches in diameter, and carries more than 5,300 pounds of explosives. Much of the remaining weight is a high-performance steel casing that, along with its narrow diameter, is meant to help the weapon burrow into the ground. Some estimate it could penetrate up to 200 feet of earth before detonating.
Under a principle of preserving Israel’s “qualitative military edge”, the United States consults with Israel on proposed sales of advanced arms to other countries in the region.
A bill passed in 2008 stipulated that US arms sales to any Middle East country other than Israel must therefore guarantee that it would not adversely affect Israel’s military advantage.
While Israel has acquired F-35 jets from the US, F-35 sales have been denied to Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates, which has long sought to acquire the jets.
Israel has reiterated a need to maintain its military superiority since forging official ties with the UAE and fellow Gulf Arab state Bahrain under deals brokered by US President Donald Trump.
But Washington reportedly agreed to consider allowing the UAE to buy F-35 stealth jets in a side deal to the normalisation agreement between Israel and the Emirates in September.
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