02:15 GMT +323 January 2020
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    The extension of the lifespan of the B61-12 warhead authorized by Washington is harmful to nuclear security and keeps open the door for the weapons to be used by intent or accident, Rob van Riet, the coordinator for disarmament program at the World Future Council foundation, told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Monday, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) authorized the production engineering phase of the B61-12 nuclear warhead life extension program (LEP). According to the NNSA, the LEP will prolong the B61 lifespan, which contains the oldest components in the US arsenal, for at least 20 years, while improving its safety and reliability.

    "The decision to extend the life span of / modernize the system is an unnecessary one, that comes at a sizeable price tag and does the opposite of advancing nuclear security and disarmament. These weapons are a remnant of the Cold War," van Riet said.

    He said that in light of tensions in US-Russia ties there is concern that these bombs would be given new purposes and roles in defense doctrines.

    "Keeping and extending the life span of these weapons sends the wrong signal and keeps the possibility of these weapons being used by intent, miscalculation or accident alive," van Riet said.

    He added that an expected step from the United States and Russia as nuclear powers would be "to reduce and ultimately remove these tactical nuclear weapons in reciprocal fashion" instead of modernizing them.

    The first production unit of the weapon is planned for 2020, according to NNSA.

    The B61-12 LEP is a joint program of the NNSA and the US Air Force to maintain significant part of the US nuclear arsenal. Within the framework of the program, the B61-12 is expected to replace the existing US B61 bombs of its third, fourth, seventh and 10th modifications.

    Related:

    US Nuclear Security Body Allows Production Engineering Stage of B61-12 Nuke Bomb
    Kremlin Comments on US Plans to Modernize Nuclear Arsenal
    Tags:
    nuclear weapons, B61-12, Cold War, World Future Council, Rob van Riet, Russia, United States
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