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US successfully tests nuclear gravity bomb in Nevada following $8bn upgrade via RT

The US launched a third flight test of the newly upgraded B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb, which it says shows the nation’s “continued commitment to security.” The launch was completed by the US Air Force and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

The launch, which took place at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada on October 20, 2015, “provides additional evidence of the nation’s continued commitment to our nation’s security and that of our allies and partners,” NNSA Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon said in a statement Monday.

She added that “this demonstration of effective end-to-end system performance under representative delivery conditions marks another 2015 achievement in the development of the B61-12 Life Extension Program.”

The NNSA states on its website that the Life Extension Program, which was launched in February, allows it to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent without producing new weapons or conducting new underground nuclear tests. Life extension efforts are intended to extend the lifetime of a weapon for an additional 20 to 30 years.

But the B61-12’s $8 billion upgrade has sparked debate between anti-proliferation advocates and Washington over whether the newly improved bomb is actually a new weapon, and therefore a violation of President Obama’s position of not making new nuclear weapons. However, the NNSA maintains that the nuclear weapon will have no more capabilities than previous B61 weapons, and will not be GPS-guided.

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