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Pentagon pursuing nuclear bomb 24 times more powerful than one dropped during WWII

The explosion and mushroom cloud resulting from the Trinity nuclear explosion. (U.S. Department of Energy/Released)
October 31, 2023

The Defense Department announced on Friday that it is pursuing the development of a nuclear bomb that is 24 times more powerful than one from World War II.

According to a Pentagon press release, the military working toward a modern variant of the B61 nuclear gravity bomb, called the B61-13, but the initiative is awaiting congressional authorization and appropriation.

“Today’s announcement is reflective of a changing security environment and growing threats from potential adversaries,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb. “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.”

The Pentagon said the B61-13 would be “deliverable by modern aircraft, strengthening deterrence of adversaries and assurance of allies and partners by providing the President with additional options against certain harder and large-area military targets.”

The new bomb would replace some of the B61-7s that are currently in the United States’ nuclear stockpile.

The Pentagon’s fact sheet on the B61 variant development explains that the B61-13 will be similar to the B61-7, which has a load 24 times larger than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II, Fox News reported.

“The B61-13 represents a reasonable step to manage the challenges of a highly dynamic security environment,” Plumb said. “While it provides us with additional flexibility, production of the B61-13 will not increase the overall number of weapons in our nuclear stockpile.”

The Defense Department noted that the initiative has been under review and consideration for “several months” and “is not in response to any specific current event.”

“[It] reflects an ongoing assessment of a changing security environment,” the department said.

In September, a Russian state television station threatened nuclear strikes against the United States in response to U.S. involvement in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Making an appearance on the Russia 1 channel, Igor Korotchenko, editor of the “National Defense” newspaper, suggested that unprecedented action could be taken by Russia against the United States.

“The most important message we should send to the Americans is that we will not wage war with you in Europe,” Korotchenko said in a translated video shared on X, formerly Twitter, by Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian internal affairs adviser.

Korotchenko also stated, “In response to your attacks on Russian military or civilian facilities, the first strike will be a preventative limited strike against targets on the territory of the United States of America.”