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U.S. announces new NUCLEAR weapon 24 times the power of one dropped on Hiroshima – days after it emerged China plans to double its warheads by 2030


The Pentagon has announced plans for a new nuclear bomb 24 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

It comes days after it emerged China plans to double its arsenal of nuclear warheads to over 1,000 by 2030.

America’s proposed new B61-13 nuclear gravity bomb would be dropped from aircraft including the $692 million B-21 Raider stealth bomber, which is currently in development.

Gravity bombs are unguided but the new one would have a tail kit helping with targeting and making it more accurate.

The the B-21 Raider would be equipped with the new nuclear weapon and will have a range of 6,000 miles

The the B-21 Raider would be equipped with the new nuclear weapon and will have a range of 6,000 miles

The new weapon has to be signed off by Congress but met with immediate signs of approval from Republican hawks.

The Pentagon said: ‘The B61-13 will strengthen deterrence of adversaries and assurance of allies and partners by providing the President with additional options against certain harder and large-area military targets.’

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb did not mention China or Russia in discussing the new weapon.

But he said: ‘Today’s announcement is reflective of a changing security environment and growing threats from potential adversaries.

‘The United States has a responsibility to continue to assess and field the capabilities we need to credibly deter and, if necessary, respond to strategic attacks, and assure our allies.’

He added: “The B61-13 represents a reasonable step to manage the challenges of a highly dynamic security environment. It provides us with additional flexibility.’

The weapon is the latest iteration of the B61 gravity bomb, which has been a key plank of the U.S. nuclear deterrent since the Cold War.

It will have a maximum yield of 360 kilotons – 24 times the roughly15 kiloton yield of the bomb that was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945.

The bomb dropped on Nagasaki three days later had a yield of about 25 kilotons.

An atomic bomb test over the ocean

An atomic bomb test over the ocean 

An earlier version of the B61 thermonuclear bomb

An earlier version of the B61 thermonuclear bomb

Production of what is expected to be a small number of B61-13s will not increase the overall number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal as others will be retired.

The U.S. currently has around 3,700 nuclear warheads, of which 1,419 are deployed.

B61-13s will have less than one third the power of the biggest U.S. nuclear weapon – the B83 – which has a yield of 1.2 megatons, 80 times the Hiroshima bomb.

Barack Obama tried to retire the B83 but Donald Trump ended that effort.

There were suggestions the proposal of the B61-13 could be used by the Biden administration to convince Republicans in Congress to get rid of the B83.

during the 2020 election campaign Biden vowed to “bring us closer to a world without nuclear weapons so that the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are never repeated.’

However, the U.S. is now engaged in its most ambitious nuclear weapons effort since World War II.

It is spending more than $750 billion over the next decade to revamp nearly every part of its aging nuclear defenses because some systems and parts are more than 50 years old.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico 3,300 workers have been hired in the last two years, with the workforce now numbering more than 17,000.

Workers are producing plutonium cores which are key components for nuclear weapons.

 

An aerial view shows the Los Alamos National Laboratory

An aerial view shows the Los Alamos National Laboratory

An aircraft drops a gravity bomb

An aircraft drops a gravity bomb

Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda, of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project, said the number of targets that would need such a high-yield gravity bomb was limited.

It was therefore likely that only about 50 of the weapons would be produced.

They wrote: ‘Although government officials insist that the B61-13 plan is not driven by new developments in adversarial countries, or a new military targeting requirement, increasing the accuracy of a high-yield bomb obviously has targeting implications.

‘Detonating the weapon closer to the target will increase the probably that the target is destroyed, and a very hard facility could hypothetically be destroyed.’

No estimated cost was given for the project by the Pentagon.

Republican congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, welcomed the proposal but said it was a ‘modest step in the right direction.’

He said: ‘The B61-13 is not a long-term solution but it will provide our commanders with more flexibility against these target sets. Dramatic transformation of our deterrent posture, not incremental or piecemeal changes, is required to address this threat.’

U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and China's President Xi Jinping (L) meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022

U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and China’s President Xi Jinping (L) meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022

Earlier this month it emerged that China has amassed at least 500 operational nuclear warheads, which was more than the U.S. had previously believed.

In its annual China Military Power Report the Pentagon said Beijing had accelerated production and was set to double that by the end of the decade.

The disclosure was a further blow to relations between the world’s two largest economies, which are already at their lowest ebb in years.

In addition to China’s nuclear surge tensions have been growing over a range of issues including Beijing’s aggressiveness toward Taiwan, its military activities in the South China Sea, trade, and human rights.

Beijing is committed to a ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons policy, meaning it would never launch a preemptive strike.

The U.S. does not adhere to a ‘no first use’ policy and says nuclear weapons would be used only in ‘extreme circumstances.’



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