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Pentagon to Test Bunker-Busting Superbomb

The Pentagon has labeled it "Divine Strake," the detonation in the Nevada desert of a record-setting superbomb. The official line is that this is the test of a new bunker-busting weapon. But weighing in at 700 tons, the bomb cannot be delivered by any existing planes or missiles, experts say.

Insiders believe the test is actually meant to simulate the effects of a tactical nuclear weapon on underground tunnels, as a prelude for the Defense Department making a case to Congress for developing a new line of nuclear weapons to penetrate entrenched sites, such as those in North Korea and, it is believed, Iran.

The project is being conducted by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which says the tests will be used to enhance existing computer modeling to help design future munitions. On the agency's Web site, it explains that as governments construct command operations that may include weapons of mass destruction, "The U.S. military must be able to defeat hard and deeply buried targets in order to deny an adversary the ability to use these facilities against us."

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Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.