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The 5 Biggest Nuclear Weapons Tests (from All 6 Nuclear Powers)

The 5 Biggest Nuclear Weapons Tests (from All 6 Nuclear Powers)

Blast from the past—and the present. 

Conclusion

The mammoth nuclear bombs that the United States and Soviet Union tested in the beginning of the Cold War are likely to remain a relic of the past. At that time, nuclear strategy was still in its infancy, and largely predicated on targeting cities. Moreover, as the second World War had shown, accuracy from planes was absolutely horrendous (the same was true for early missiles), meaning an enormous blast was required to take out any specific targets. With better targeting and accuracy—along with some countries like the United States adopting counterforce rather than countervalue doctrines—gigantic nuclear yields like Castle Bravo and Tsar Bomba are no longer needed and probably never were. Today the most powerful American nuclear warhead is believed to be the B83 , with a yield of 1.2 Mt. Even that bomb is in the process of being retired.

Zachary Keck ( @ZacharyKeck) is a former managing editor of The National Interest .

Image: Wikimedia Commons.