The US has flexed its military muscle in response to North Korea’s missile test by announcing a successful trial of a “gravity bomb”.
The B61-12 nuclear gravity bombs are small enough to be dropped by a double-seat strike fighter, but large enough to create a 1.6km fireball five times the temperature of the sun.
The weapons were dropped over a Nevada test range earlier this month, but it’s no coincidence the test was announced now.
“The B61-12 life extension program is progressing on schedule to meet national security requirements,” NNSA deputy Phil Calbos said in a statement.
“These realistic flight qualification tests validate the design of the B61-12 when it comes to system performance.”
The test bombs did not contain any nuclear material but still served as a serious demonstration that the Pentagon’s weapons technology is decades ahead of Pyongyang’s.
North Korea yesterday announced it had fired a ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, in a particularly provocative gesture.
The missile then broke up and crashed into the Pacific on the other side of Japan, as the test intended.
The US gravity bomb tests attracted the attention of Russian media, with National Defense editor Igor Korotchenko warning of its potential implications.
“The fact of the test of this modification of the nuclear bomb indicates that the US continues an accelerated rearmament program of its tactical nuclear arsenal in Europe, as well as that both Washington and Brussels (NATO) are considering the scenario of a limited nuclear war in Europe,” Korotchenko told RIA Novosti.
Meanwhile, Kremlin-backed media outlet RT tied the US tests to a push from certain US politicians to withdraw from Ronald Reagan’s landmark nuclear disarmament pact with Russia.
Arkansas senator Tom Cotton introduced a bill that would declare Russia in breach of the treaty, signed by President Reagan and the USSR’s Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.