The last of America’s most powerful Cold War-era nuclear bombs – the B53 – has been dismantled in Texas.
Experts have separated around 300lb (136kg) of high explosives from the bomb’s uranium “pit”.
Weighing 10,000lb, the B53 was the size of a minivan and said to be 600 times more destructive than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.
It was first put into service at the height of the Cold War in 1962, and remained in the US arsenal until 1997.
The bomb was designed to hit targets deep underground, such as bunkers in which military and civilian leaders might be sheltering.
Carried by B-52 bombers, the “bunker busters” used five parachutes to land softly on their targets before detonating a nine megaton explosion, in effect simulating an earthquake.
They have been superseded by bombs that burrow into the ground and then explode.
The first B53s were destroyed in the 1980s but several remained in service until 1997, when they were all retired.
A dismantling programme had to be specially designed for the B53s, which were made with older technology and by scientists who have since retired or died.