The US military posted pictures online this month of a powerful bunker-busting bomb that could destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities it has built deep underground. The publication of the pictures is seen as a veiled threat as it came amid soaring tensions between the US and Iran.
According to The Associated Press, the pictures were only briefly online on May 2 and were removed because they revealed sensitive information about the bomb, the GBU-57, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator.
The pictures were posted on the Facebook page of the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, which houses a fleet of B-2 bombers, the only US aircraft that are capable of carrying the heavy Massive Ordnance Penetrator.
In 2019, the US military posted a video of a B-2 bomber dropping two GBU-57s amid heightened tensions with Iran. The US also often deploys bombers to the Middle East to send a message to Tehran, although they typically send B-52s.
AP also reported that Iran’s new underground nuclear facility that is currently being built might be deeper than the GBU-57 can reach. Based on satellite images, the report estimated the facility could be between 260 and 328 feet underground. The US Air Force has said the GBU-57 can penetrate facilities 200 feet underground.
Iran has built more facilities underground in response to Israeli sabotage attacks on its civilian nuclear program. Israeli officials also often threaten to take overt military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, but they don’t possess bunker-busting bombs or aircraft capable of carrying them.