The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is pressing Congress to approve the development of a considerably more potent nuclear bomb, exceeding the capabilities of the two bombs used in World War II. Military officials argue that these weapons are essential for protecting Americans in the face of increasing global threats.
Last week, military leaders unveiled their intention to pursue the creation of the B61-13 nuclear gravity bomb, a weapon 24 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during World War II.
Donald Bramer, a former naval intelligence officer, explained, “If you look at the bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, each of those bombs killed approximately 80,000 civilians in one location and 40,000 in another. So, when you multiply that by 24, you get a sense of the capabilities of this weapon and the significant technological advancements we’ve made in our nuclear arsenal.”
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb stated that the necessity for this nuclear weapon arises from “a changing security environment and growing threats from potential adversaries.” Republican Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker emphasized, stating, “This is as serious a matter as we will address this year.”
Earlier in the month, the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill highlighted the nation’s nuclear strategy. Leaders from both sides of the aisle expressed concerns about ongoing threats from countries like Russia, which recently withdrew from a nuclear threat ban treaty, and North Korea, which continues to conduct numerous weapons tests.
Democratic Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed emphasized the urgency, saying, “This mission has become more urgent due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and China’s rapid strategic expansion.”
Notably, the National Nuclear Security Administration recently conducted an underground chemical explosion at a test site in Nevada aimed at enhancing America’s ability to detect nuclear explosions worldwide. Given the current push to modernize U.S. weapons, some lawmakers advocate for preparedness.
According to Bramer, this pursuit signals the U.S.’s commitment to strengthening its military, which is important to reassure allies who may have doubts about America. He also noted that the aging nuclear fleet is becoming costlier than it should be, making this a cost-effective long-term move that will save taxpayers money.
The DOD contends that this new weapon will offer President Biden an option against specific, larger military targets while discouraging adversaries from potentially targeting the U.S.