THE US is building a new nuclear bomb 24 times more powerful than one dropped on Japan during World War II.
America's defence department revealed a new version of the B61 nuclear "gravity bomb" is in development.
The decision to build this bomb comes as a way to deter threats from the main nuclear-armed competitors – China and Russia.
John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, said: "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."
B61-13 will have a similar yield to its predecessor B61-7 which can have a maximum load of 360 kilotons.
It is 24 times more than powerful the Hiroshima nuke and 14 times larger than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.
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The new model will also incorporate modern safety, security and accuracy features of a previous B61-12.
But the 13th version will provide the president with additional options against harder and large-area military targets, said the report.
The defence ministry will only produce a few of B61-13, taking advantage of the current, established production capabilities supporting the B61-12.
The B61-13 will not increase the US weapons stockpile, but instead will replace some of the B61-7s.
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Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists, told Defense News that the weapon will incorporate the same warheads from the 1980s- and 1990s-era B61-7s, transplanted into the same style casing and tail kit as the B61-12.
The Pentagon said in its announcement that modern aircraft would be able to deliver the new bomb.
Kristensen believes the B61-13 is a compromise to resolve a years-long disagreement between Republicans and Democrats over the massive, four-decade-old B83-1 bomb.
The 1.2 megaton nuke is the last of its kind left in the country's nuclear arsenal and has 80 times the force of Hiroshima bomb.
Former president Barack Obama sought to get rid of the deadly nuke, but his successor Donald Trump reversed that decision.
Current president of the US, Joe Biden, has revived the efforts to discard the mega bomb and has been met with objection from key Republican lawmakers, saying the B83-1 is needed to strike hard and deeply buried targets.
Kristensed said: “This is a sweetener to the hardliners in Congress to basically say: ‘OK guys, you want something with a high yield.
“ ‘Here’s a small number of them … but you also get one with a tail kit that will be more accurate.’ ”
The gravity bombs arsenal of the US is currently somewhere between 400 and 500.
Some US senators welcomed the creation of a new bomb, calling it a "a modest step in the right direction.”
They believe the US is lagging behind in the nuclear arms race.
“China and Russia are in a full-on arms race, and the U.S. is running in place. Dramatic transformation of our deterrent posture — not incremental or piecemeal changes — is required to address this threat,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi in a joint statement.
Earlier this month, the US conducted a high-explosive experiment at a nuclear test site in Nevada.
Corey Hinderstein, deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration, said: "It's meant to advance our efforts to develop new technology in support of U.S. nuclear nonproliferation goals.
"They [the experiments] will help reduce global nuclear threats by improving the detection of underground nuclear explosive tests."
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The test came as Russia was expected to pull out of a 1966 Comprehensive Nuclear Ban Treaty which bans all nuclear explosions anywhere in the world.
However, another US nuclear race contender, China, has never signed the treaty.
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