Amarillo, Texas, Oct 26: The last of the nation's most powerful nuclear bombs - a weapon hundreds of times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima - is being disassembled nearly half a century after it was put into service at the height of the Cold War.
The final components of the B53 bomb will be broken down on Tuesday at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, the nation's only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. The completion of the dismantling programme is a year ahead of schedule, according to the US department of energy's national nuclear security administration, and aligns with president Barack Obama's goal of reducing the number of nuclear weapons.
Thomas D'Agostino, the nuclear administration's chief, called the bomb's elimination a “significant milestone”.
Since it was made using older technology by engineers who have since retired or died, developing a disassembling process took time.
“We knew going in that this was going to be a challenging project, and we put together an outstanding team with all of our partners to develop a way to achieve this objective safely and efficiently,” said John Woolery, the plant's general manager.
The weapon is considered dismantled when the roughly 300 pounds of explosives inside are separated from the special nuclear material, known as the pit, said Pantex spokesman Greg Cunningham.