At the same time as US officials are totally inconsolable about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and threatening to attack North Korea over it, US scientists are bragging that a test of an upgraded model of nuclear bomb for the United States were conducted successfully.
The B61-12 gravity bombs are a hugely expensive US military project designed to replace aging B61 bombs with a new version that offers substantially better accuracy, and lower yield options. This enhancement to the US arsenal was seen as a big boost, particularly for overseas deployments.
It may also be among the most dangerous additions to the US arsenal, as the design’s ability to launch higher accuracy, lower yield weapons may convince the US that dropping a “little nuke” here or there is an option, particularly for fortified sites that would otherwise be difficult to destroy.
The Air Force has defended the development of the B61-12 on exactly this basis, saying that having these nukes would be a big deterrent because everyone would believe the US would be more willing to use them than their current, mostly much higher yield, bombs.
That willingness to use nuclear weapons on a more casual basis could be a major game changer for the US and the world, and could bring nuclear warfare, long an unthinkable option for most, into the reach of military hawks whose big reason for not having gone nuclear sooner was the fear of international backlash.
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