US Dismantles B53 Nuclear Bomb
October 25, 2011 by staff
The last B-53 bomb – built in 1962, the year of the missile crisis in Cuba – was dismantled in Pantex facility in Amarillo, the only place in America that still build, maintain and dismantle nuclear weapons.
Gray in color, weighing 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilograms) and the size of a small car, which had the power to end a metropolitan area with its nine-megaton yield when dropped from a B-52 bomber.
In comparison, the atomic bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in the final days of World War II filled with a yield of 12 kilotons, or 0.012 megatons. The bomb killed more than 100,000 people.
“It is important in the sense that it is the last multi-megaton weapons that the nuclear powers are used to build during the height of the Cold War,” said Hans Kirstens of the Federation of American Scientists.
“This is the end of the era of monster weapons,” he told AFP.
Removing the Pump B-53 – retired from service in 1997 – involved the removal of 300 pounds of high explosive uranium “pit” at the heart of the weapon, Pantex spokesman Greg Cunningham told AFP.
“The world is a safer place with this dismantling,” said Thomas D’Agostino, director of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Pantex in a statement.
“The B-53 was a weapon developed in the past by a different world” and “disposal” is an important step in the efforts of President Barack Obama to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the U.S. security policy, he said.
Last May, the United States first revealed the true size of its nuclear arsenal – a total of 5,113 heads to September 30, 2009, the Pentagon announced.
That figure – a reduction of 75 percent since 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell – includes active warheads ready for deployment in the short term as well as “inactive” warheads kept in storage in a “non-operational status.”
Under a new arms limitation treaty (START) treaty, agreed in April last year, the United States and Russia – which have almost all nuclear weapons – is committed to reduce their arsenals to 1,550 warheads each.
The B-53 bomb was so large that a B-52 bomber could only carry two of them. Each was equipped with parachutes to control the descent, according to video released by the National Nuclear Security Administration.
“This particular gun have been removed and dismantled long ago,” said KirstenStar, director of Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington.
“But it was allowed to remain in the reserve, as it had an important mission – to eliminate underground targets” for the formation of craters on the surface with its awesome force, he said.
The most powerful U.S. yield warheads now about 1.2 megatons, mounted on guided missiles.
The total number of B-53 was manufactured pumps remains classified, said Cunningham, but the website nuclearweaponarchive.org put the figure at 350, with 50 stores in 1997.
He was replaced by the B-61 bomb, a design in mid-1960 with a variable yield of up to 340 kilotons, the website said.
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