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    Pentagon Wants to Make Its Nukes in Europe More 'Usable'

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    The United States has approximately 180 B61 nuclear bombs lying in wait in Europe. As “dumb” bombs, they’re relatively useless, but the Pentagon is about to spend $8 billion to turn a stockpile of obsolete weapons into something a little more "usable."

    In 2010, the Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review stressed that the United States, in the interest of non-proliferation, would not develop any new nuclear weapons. Stockpiles already in place – like the B61s held in six bases across continental Europe – can remain, but not increased.

    Which is why the development of the B61-12 is entering into an uncomfortable gray area. While not technically a new weapon, the Pentagon is administering significant upgrades to those B61s. With a new tail kit and adjustable yield, the US military is turning its aging hoard of "dumb" nukes into precision-guided models.

    The exorbitant cost to taxpayers is certainly one point of criticism– at $8 billion, the B61-12 is often referred to as the most expensive nuclear bomb ever made – but the escalated potential for conflict is another.

    "If I can drive down the yield, drive down, therefore, the likelihood of fallout, etc, does that make it more usable in the eyes of some – some president or national security decision-making process?" former head of US Strategic Command General James Cartwright told PBS.

    "And the answer is, it likely could be more usable."

    Knowing that it has access to a "usable" nuclear weapon could alter the way the Pentagon thinksabout nuclear war. The B61-12’s "Dial-a-yield' technology means that any bomb could have its explosive force adjusted. With a max of 50,000 tons of TNT equivalent and a minimum of 300 tons, the military could customize its desired effect.

    A weapon that has been historically considered too dangerous to use could instead be viewed as a legitimate consideration in warfare.

    "Without a doubt. Improved accuracy and lower yield is a desired military capability. Without a question," former US Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said during a 2014 conference.

    While US officials continue to debate semantic arguments about the definition of the word "new," the upgrades to the nuclear stockpile will doubtlessly be seen as an alarming move by regional actors, especially given that the Pentagon’s new F-35 fighter jets can be outfitted with the new B61s.

    "If the Russians put out a guided nuclear bomb on a stealthy fighter that could sneak through air defenses, would that add to the perception here that they were lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons?" said nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, according to Mother Jones.

    "Absolutely."

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    Tags:
    tactical nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons, B61-12, B61, nuclear non-proliferation, Nuclear Posture Review, Pentagon, Hans Kristensen, Norton Schwartz, James "Hoss" Cartwright, Barack Obama, Europe, United States
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    • avatar
      coolerheads
      This is somewhat of a reaction to Russia and China talking about using nuclear torpedoes to sink U.S. aircraft carriers. According to most experts, nuclear torpedoes are the only viable way currently available to sink a U.S. carrier during wartime. The U.S. wants small nuclear weapons that could be used to retaliate against Chinese or Russian military bases/ports without endangering Russian or Chinese cities. It's a slippery slope. How will the enemy know if that bomb is set to 3 kilotons or 50 megatons? There's no way to know until it detonates. By then, it's too late to do anything.
    • avatar
      hopscotch64in reply tocoolerheads(Show commentHide comment)
      coolerheads, Your post is in error. A nuclear torpedo is only one way to sink an aircraft carrier. The Chinese have a "Carrier Killer" missile that is hypersonic and non nuclear. The first hit would disable the carrier and the second missile would sink it. This missile was designed to deny US carriers access to any combat zone by rendering the scope of attack planes useless.
    • avatar
      hopscotch64
      The adjustable 180 B61 in combination with the US missile defense shield is a first strike strategy designed to negate a retaliatory strike and limit radioactive fall out. Thereby increasing the potential survivability of nuclear war. The highly dangerous and provocative move on the part of the United States is part of a nuclear war survival strategy. However, the kicker is that in order for this strategy to be effective it must be used in a first strike sneak attack. This means that the country that strikes first stands the best chance of survival, so we no longer have MAD and makes nuclear war now not only feasible, but highly likely. Someone in the United States has turned over the key's to the lunatic asylum to the inmates. The United States is no doubt the most dangerous enemy of human kind ever to exist on the planet.
    • avatar
      cast235
      Place them in Cuba, Mexico and Bahamas? Maybe in Dominican Republic too. Including labs like they have around Russia. enjoy the spoils.. Dance Mexican music, date Senoritas and drink few margaritas by the beach!!! See them FOAMING on MSM.
    • korz53
      lunatics USA
    • avatar
      coolerheadsin reply tohopscotch64(Show commentHide comment)
      hopscotch64,

      The U.S. Navy isn't too worried about the "Carrier Killer" DF 21. It's basically a cold-war era ICBM fitted with a conventional warhead. It shoots up outside the atmosphere and then comes down at re-entry speeds like other ballistic missiles. The Chinese have only tested it against non-moving targets. The guidance is set when the missile is launched and it has only very minimal maneuvering upon re-entry. It's only a danger to ships that aren't moving. It could target a carrier that was docked, but not one moving at 35 knots on the open ocean. You won't see any U.S. ships docking within range of China during wartime.
    • avatar
      copiusin reply tocoolerheads(Show commentHide comment)
      coolerheads, or a crippled ship
    • avatar
      copius
      If one b52 can crash on takeoff so can others.
      But a B52 with nuclear weapons crash on takeoff?
      The whole airfield will be contaminated.....poof
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