AMARILLO, Texas, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- A plant in Texas dismantled the last of America's largest Cold War-era nuclear weapons, a 10,000-pound B-53 bomb, officials at the plant said Tuesday.
Production of the B53 was halted in mid-1965 after more than 300 had been built at Pantex in Amarillo, Texas, America's only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility, the Amarillo Globe-News reported Tuesday.
The National Nuclear Security Administration held a ceremony at the Amarillo plant to commemorate the dismantlement of the final bomb, the agency said in a news release.
"The dismantlement of the B53 bomb -- the oldest weapon in America's arsenal and one of the largest in U.S. history -- is a major accomplishment that has made the world safer and for which everyone involved should be proud," Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said at the ceremony. "Safely and securely dismantling surplus weapons is a critical step along the road to achieving President Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons."
The first B53s built in 1962 were intended as bunker busters, the Globe-News reported. They had a rear compartment containing five parachutes designed to bring the bomb down softly so that its explosive power would send a shock wave through the earth to collapse underground shelters.
The NNSA said the sheer size of the B53s -- about the size of a minivan -- made taking apart the bombs safely a difficult task.
The bomb was designed to deliver an explosion of 9 megatons, the equivalent of 9 million tons of TNT, or 600 times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.
The United States began to disassemble the bombs in the 1980s and by 1987 there were only 25 left.