The B61-12 bomb, developed by US scientists, is so accurate that it is probably the most dangerous nuclear weapon ever produced, according to military experts
It is a variable yield thermonuclear weapon with a precision-guided trajectory thanks to a Boeing manufactured tail kit.
Its accuracy might tempt a U.S. president to use it tactically, that might then stop or initiate a wider nuclear conflict.
It could be launched from an aircraft, specially the stealth jet bomber.
It has a yield of between 0.3 to 50 kiloton (up to 340 kiloton, according to Wikipedia.org), which means one bomb has multiple times the explosive power of the nuclear bombs that were used on Nagasaki and Hiroshima during WW2.
Military experts believe the weapon’s accuracy and variable power reduces the risk of collateral damage and potential widespread civilian casualties.
General James Cartwright, the retired commander of US Strategic Command, told America’s PBS News: “If I can drive down the yield, drive down the likelihood of fallout, does that make it more usable in the eyes of a president or national security decision-making process?
“The answer is yes, it likely could be more usable.”
But this has led to a number of former and current senior US defence officials voicing concerns that the precise nature of the weapon could provide a rationale for its future use in conflict.
The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) confirmed the development and testing phase of the B61-12 had been completed and the production engineering phase was now under way. Full-scale production is expected by 2020.
NNSA Administrator Lieutenant General Frank G. Klotz said: “Reaching this next phase is a major achievement for NNSA and the exceptionally talented scientists and engineers whose work underpins this vital national security mission.”
Despite President Barack Obama’s stated intention to scale down the country’s nuclear arsenal, the US government has undertaken a massive 30-year, $1trillion project to modernise its atomic stockpiles.
Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said: “These life extension programs directly support President Obama’s directive to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent, while reducing the size of the stockpile.
“Once completed, the B61-12 LEP will allow for the retirement of the B83-1— the last megaton-class weapon in America’s nuclear arsenal while supporting the nation’s continued commitment to our national security and that of our allies and partners.”
B61 bomb in various stages of assembly. The nuclear component is contained in the small, silver cylinder near the upper middle. Source: Wikipedia.org