back to article US decommissions massive Cold War nuke

The US has begun decommissioning its last B53 bomb, one of the largest thermonuclear devices ever built for its Cold War arsenal. The 12-foot device entered active service in 1962, and over 300 were built in all, with two variants: the B53-Y1, designed to create lasting fallout, and the relatively clean B52-Y2. The nine-megaton …

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Mushroom

Oh no it hasn't

"has made the world safer and for which everyone involved should be proud"

Huge bombs that had to be flown to their target on big vulnerable bombers and so

1, would never be used and 2, wouldn't get there anyway

Are being replaced by tiny, no fallout, would be perfectly reasonable to use against a hardened bunker in a certain middle eastern country starting with I.R.A. - type bombs. It wouldn't be a nuclear war - it would just be a "fission enhanced bunker penetrating, people friendly munition" or some such (extra points for making the acronym KITTEN).

Then of course it would be convenient to use against a cave complex in Afghanistan, then against a wedding party, then ....

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"Fun-Sized Mobile Agony and Death Dispenser" as Agatha might say.

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Your backronym, Sir

I agree with everything you say, but without the sarcasm. If the country you mentioned crossed the line, their leaders were sitting in a bunker, and Uncle Sam has a nuke that can take them out while only irradiating a few thousand acres of mostly-uninhabitable desert in the process ... well I say do it.

Anyway, KITTEN; best I can come up with at this time of the night - "Keep In Tactical Tract Explosive (Nuclear)". How's that?

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Kinetic Impact Tungsten Tipped Encampment (or Enemy) Neutralizer

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Happy

Wasn't that the Castle that used that term?

It does look like something Agatha and/or Gil would build, though!

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@tony72

Crossed which line, exactly? Doing stuff that displeases the almighty Uncle Sam? Running their country the way they see fit, however f-ed up it might be? Joining the nuclear club without Merkin blessing?

And then you wonder why most of the world considers Americans to be violent buffoons.

(NB: I know quite a few Americans who are anything but violent buffoons, but then again, they seem to be not quite as obnoxiously loud as the Murrikah-f*k-yeah eejits.)

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Anonymous Coward

@Yet Another AC

We are (EU/UK/USA) are going to great lengths to not have a war with Iran, with extreme provocation.

Iran are supplying all the know how for roadside IEDs in 'stan and Iraq, yet we don't do anything about it.

Iran kidnap hikers and other citizens from near their land, yet we don't do anything about it.

Iran kidnap our sailors, we don't start a firefight and we don't do anything that isn't diplomatic to get them back. This would normally be an act of war.

I could go on.

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Anonymous Coward

Kinetic Impact Toughened Target Enhanced* Neutraliser.

Our warfighters can look forward to distributing some collateral damage with these bad boys sometimes soon, and the press won't understand a word of it. Just like the use of 'non target specific incendiaries' back in '91.

*Because you can't say 'nuclear'. That would be scary.

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Who is "they"?

'Running their country the way they see fit, however f-ed up it might be?'

Does this refer to the foreign government, or its people. There is a difference.

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Anonymous Coward

Good justification...

US supplied money and arms to the IRA.

US Supplied arms & training to the mujahideen (much of which aka the Taliban) during the Russia / Afgan war

Supported Iraq (a certain Sadam Hussain) in the Iran / Iraq war.

So can we drop one on the US?

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Anonymous Coward

Leaders...

... tend to live in the capital. High population density.

"take them out while only irradiating a few thousand acres of mostly-uninhabitable desert in the process "

7 million people live in Tehran. Many tried and failed in their attempts at an uprising.

Who's line is it anyway ?

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The left socialized this title

Disclaimer: I am not merkin. I am braziian, but a conosseir of all things geopolitical.

Nevermind the fact that financing, training and aiding Hezbollah, Hamas and a miriad of other smaller jihadist armies.

Nevermind a pivotal role on the smuggling of russian and chinese arms and missiles into latin america dictatorships.

Nevermind promising to wipe Israel off the map, while building a nuke.

Nevermind a history of oppression demonstrating they have no qualms about meeting protests for obviously (admitted by an ayatolah) faked elections with hot lead. Massacrating its own civil population.

Nevermind that and a really really long list that could go on, the merkins are the thugs.

Yeah, right.

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Anonymous Coward

Diplomacy

Nothing wrong with dimploacy.

I don't agree with your take on the Navy incident. We strayed into Iranian waters, the crew were listening to their iPods. They went on TV (didn't appear to resist much) and generally tarnished the reputation of a once great Navy.

Kidnapping muppets who strayed into their area - sheer opportunism.

They will be punished through diplomacy. Best way to do it.

Always keep the moral high ground.

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@AC 14:00

We didn't stray into Iranian waters, even if you take the Iranian definition of their territorial waters into account, which aren't recognised in International Law, we were outside their waters.

They apparently tried the same trick against an Australian boarding team who responded with 'strong language' which sufficiently discouraged the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

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FAIL

"Does this refer to the foreign government, or its people. There is a difference."

Actually, there isn't. If the vast majority of the population were utterly dissatisfied with their government, there would have been a revolution already. You know, like the one they had in 1979.

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Childcatcher

will anyone think of the babies ...

Bombs Are Best In All Situations !

there's something very human about violence :(

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On that incident, it would be tempting to suggest that the offending mariners might have been better treated by the Iranians that they might have been by the Portsmouth Plods, but on what I hear, the average RN sailor tends not to riot in bars.

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Different situation

@ That Awful Puppy

The Shah was weak, he had lost the plot, there was a lot of in-fighting in government.

It's a lot harder now. The uprisings have been put down hard.

I have visited the country with my wife - we are not muslim and we did think we were complying with the dress code - some of her hair was protruding outside of her head scarf and from out of nowhere someone came up and challenged her - apparently these religious police are a law unto themselves (this was in Isfahan). Argue and you end up in jail.

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Mushroom

Kiloton Impeded Tactical Thermonuclear Explosive Neutraliser (KITTEN)

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FLUFFY

Fuzed Laydown Ultimate Fission/Fusion Yield?

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Yag

yeah, sure...

As the command bunker would be unconveniencely placed in the middle of the desert instead of several hundred meters below the capital city?

Human shield - the ultimate anti-nuke against PR-challenged countries.

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Mushroom

Icons

Where is my Buck Turgidson Icon? I need it!

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Mushroom

better yet...

Where are the handholds for Major Kong ?

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This post has been deleted by its author

25 megatons? Pah.

We had the 7.62mm SLR - the Ulster Widow Maker. Killed Death Stars at 300metres.

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Mushroom

Here's hoping someone sneezes during dismantling.

Fracking Yanks.

Considering that the "Cold War" was mainly hype generated by the MIC, as opposed to "making the world safe for democracy" it would just be fitting.

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Just to be clear

You are hoping that some sneezes so the bomb goes off killing thousands of people ?

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@kain preacher

"You are hoping that some sneezes so the bomb goes off killing thousands of people ?"

Well, that's exactly what it was designed to do. (Millions, maybe). What's that you say - if it went off in America it would kill the wrong people? Oh, I see.

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Anonymous Coward

@Destroy All Monsters

"He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster."

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@Tom Welsh

You're saying that it'd be ok for this device to kill Americans, because it's was designed to be used outside of America? Really?

Even by the Reg's commentators' standards of rabid anti-Americanism that's pretty low.

A terrible weapon is being dismantled, having not been used - this is a good thing, not a call to say I hope it goes off and kills a bunch of people.

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Get stuffed

The UK are no golden child either in world history.

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@AC

"You're saying that it'd be ok for this device to kill Americans, because it's was designed to be used outside of America? Really?"

No. Really no. If you were able to read, you could see that in my post I nowhere said it would be OK for this "device" (as you euphemistically call it) to kill Americans.

I merely pointed out that it was specifically designed to kill people. Millions of them.

I have said what I have said.

I have not said what I have not said.

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Facepalm

I think you'll find that anybody killed with the thing would be the "wrong" kind of people

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@ The first post - So your thinking is we are getting "The FatMan" from Fallout 3?

Either way I am mixed on this, Hopefully they have it kept in a Museum as a warning from the past that fearing the other is not always a smart thing to do AND as a Terrifiying historic relic.

But small nukes just make no sense to me, the whole point of a Tactical Nuclear weapon was to clear a area of the enemy not just to blow the living shit out of a bunker, that was the whole point of the higher payload ICBM's they are massive and designed not only to knock out the supporting infrastructure but to collapse the bunker in on it's self.

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Mushroom

museum piece

I agree... we should keep at least one just in case the apes take over

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Go

@Bill B.: "I agree... we should keep at least one just in case the apes take over"

Who do you think are in charge?

"Darwin was wrong. Man is still an ape." -- Inherit the Wind.

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Gold badge
Happy

May I be ther first say

Oh ere it's a *big* one.

On a slightly more technical note I always wondered how long one of these things could go without going back to the factory for servicing.

It seems very hard to believe this has been sitting on a shelf for nearly 50 years.

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There is a shelf-life. The fission components (i.e. uranium and plutonium) have half-lives. This usually impacts just the pit (the core of the fission weapon), but might also impact the tamper and the casing and "spark plug" of the fusion side of the device too.

Those typically need to be replaced or remanufactured to filter out and purify the metals.

Over time, the half-life will degrade the weapon to the point where it will not go critical, thus rendering it into a dirty, but conventional bomb.

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Mushroom

Nuclear made feasible

Global warming meets nuclear winter... And they cancel out!

Now we can have our long postponed nuclear war and eat it too!

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Terminator

Where's the Kaboom?

There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom!

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Dr Strangelove was right.

Something about winning if they just had one man left alive at the bottom of a mine.

I don't think bunker busters can get down the 1000's of meters miners can.

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Mushroom

Not sure there's much to eat at the bottom of a mine

Except other miners.

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Anonymous Coward

"I don't think bunker busters can get down the 1000's of meters miners can".

But the pressure waves probably can. It's not really a matter of depth at all, just whether there is any door or whatever that can block the blast. Also, perhaps, what alternative paths there are for it to dissipate.

It would be no consolation to be sitting at the bottom of a mile, six miles down, when your environment suddenly turns into a fair replica of the surface of Venus.

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Mushroom

Bunker busting

I suspect that a bunker more than 2km underground in hard rock not prone to collapses cannot be busted. The USA put SAC HQ under a mountain for this reason. Iran has done the same with its A-bomb factories.

If you're going to try, you need to make sure that the explosive shockwave is well-coupled to the rock rather than the atmosphere. That's why a third of a megatonne detonated a few meters underground is an adequate (probably much "improved") replacement for this multimegatonne monster.

As for environment turning into "a fair replica of Venus" you've been reading too many Z-grade apocalypse-SF stories. Nature has several times inflicted far worse on the planet than our bombs ever could. The Chixulub impact was about 100 Teratonnes, several orders of magnitude more than the combined arsenals of the USSR and USA at the height of the cold war. It might have wiped out the dinosaurs - if not it helped them depart the stage. It would certainly have put the human race back to the stone age if we'd been around at the time. In the big picture, it was a fairly routine mass extinction event - nothing like as bad as the big one 200Myears earlier.

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Anonymous Coward

@Tomas 18

It would be very easy, animals could be bread und SLAUGHTERED.

Also, we must not allow a mineshaft gap.

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Mushroom

It vould be qvite simple mein Fuhrer, err Mr President...

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Coat

Spelling

Surely that should be BUTTERED.?

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Sure, no more use for it now that Jobs is gone

No one else bidding $40B

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