"One simple, dynamo-technology, low-voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe," wrote Parker Jones, a senior engineer at the Sandia national laboratories, at the time. If it had gone off, the bomb would have deposited radioactive fallout as far as Washington, DC and Philadelphia.
As of October 1, the US had 1,688 deployed strategic nuclear warheads. The total number of such weapons in its active stockpile was reported in 2010 at over 5,000. Another 4,600 had been "retired" and scheduled for dismantlement.
The Obama administration has increased the budget for the US nuclear weapons complex significantly over what had been allocated under Bush, inaugurating a major modernization program for the country's warhead stockpile. In the 2014 budget, the administration proposed shifting half a billion dollars from nuclear non-proliferation efforts to modernization programs for bomber and missile-based warheads, bringing the total amount allocated for this arms program to over $7.7 billion.
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