House Defense Authorization Includes Military Hardware for Israel

Bunker-busters, mid-air refueling planes could facilitate unilateral strike on Iranian nuke sites

Israeli air force aircraft / AP
June 19, 2013

A last-minute amendment to the nation’s yearly defense spending bill will ensure that Israel receives the advanced military hardware needed to launch a decisive strike on Iran’s nuclear enrichment sites.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), the House’s chief deputy majority whip, offered the amendment late last week on the eve of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act’s (NDAA) passage in the House.

The NDAA, which passed the House 315-108 on Friday after a flurry of last minute additions, funds all U.S. defense priorities for the coming fiscal year.

While the Senate version of the NDAA does not include a similar amendment regarding Israel, sources on Capitol Hill told the Washington Free Beacon that companion language is likely to be introduced in the near future.

Roskam’s amendment requires President Barack Obama to provide Congress with regular progress reports ensuring the United States makes good on promises to equip Israel with advanced weaponry, including air refueling tankers and advanced bunker-buster bombs.

This type of equipment would make it substantially easier for Israel to launch a unilateral strike on Iran’s dispersed nuclear sites.

Advanced bunker-buster bombs, for instance, would allow Israel to strike deep within Iran’s fortified underground nuclear sites, while air refueling planes would enable Israeli war planes to travel the long distance to Iran without stopping to refuel.

The amendment makes explicit reference to Iran’s nuclear program and Congressional support for Israel’s right to take any military action it deems necessary.

The United States’ arming of Israel could be critical to stopping Tehran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, Roskam told the Free Beacon.

"Under no circumstance can Israel, the United States, or the world afford a nuclear-capable Iran," Roskam said in a statement. "When it comes to Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, we must maintain a policy of prevention, not containment."

"This amendment helps ensure that Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, has the capabilities to defend itself against any potential existential threat, including Iran," Roskam said.

The arms amendment passed just days before the Iranians voted for a new president in a closely watched election.

The winner, cleric Hassan Rowhani, has been dubbed a moderate by the Western media.

However, experts believe Rowhani will engage in fruitless nuclear negotiations with the West as Tehran’s military leaders quietly accelerate their nuclear work.

International nuclear inspectors recently concluded that Iran could be just months away from successfully securing the key components in a nuclear weapon. They also found that Tehran is enriching large levels of uranium, the key component in a bomb.

Roskam’s amendment reinforces Congressional support for Israeli military action on Iran.

"It is the sense of Congress that air refueling tankers and advanced bunker-buster munitions should immediately be transferred to Israel to ensure our democratic ally has an independent capability to remove any existential threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program and defend its vital national interests," the amendment says.

The amendment additionally "identifies all aerial refueling platforms, bunker-buster munitions, and other capabilities and platforms that would contribute significantly to the maintenance by Israel of a robust independent capability to remove existential security threats, including nuclear and ballistic missile facilities in Iran, and defend its vital national interests."

Roskam’s amendment is meant to reinforce and strengthen the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, which guaranteed the Jewish state "air refueling tankers, missile defense capabilities, and specialized munitions."

The White House would be required under the bill to report to Congress every three months on the progress of its weapons deliveries to Israel.

The House version of the NDAA also would allow for the indefinite detention of several terrorists still being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. At least $500 million has been allotted to upgrade and improve the facility.