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Baby Nukes: When a Little Boom Is All You Need

Spice up your arsenal with baby nukes!

Words: Laicie Heeley
Pictures: Marc Johns / Cast from Clay

Over the course of our nuclear history, smaller (potentially more usable) nuclear weapons have come in all shapes and sizes — from so-called backpack bombs to the Davy Crockett nuclear rifle…

And last year, the US deployed a new one.

But, what exactly are these things? Do we need them? And what does the deployment of a new generation of them reveal about the US’s nuclear posture?

On this episode of Things That Go Boom, we talk about low-yield nuclear weapons — or what we’ve affectionately termed, “baby nukes.”

Listen and subscribe now on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyPocket Casts, or wherever you get your podcasts to receive a new episode every two weeks.

GUESTS: Matt Korda, Federation of American Scientists; Rose Gottemoeller, Stanford University


The Littlest Boy, Adam Rawnsley and David Brown.

Nuclear Notebook: United States Nuclear Weapons, 2021, Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda.

After the Apocalypse: US Nuclear Policy, Heather Williams, Vipin Narang, Beatrice Finh, and Togzhan Kassenova.

Laicie Heeley

Editor in Chief

Laicie Heeley is the founding CEO of Inkstick Media, where she serves as Editor in Chief of the foreign policy magazine Inkstick and Executive Producer and Host of the PRX- and Inkstick-produced podcast, Things That Go Boom. Heeley’s reporting has appeared on public radio stations across America and the BBC, where she’s explored global security issues including domestic terrorism, disinformation, nuclear weapons, and climate change. Prior to launching Inkstick, Heeley was a Fellow with the Stimson Center’s Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program and Policy Director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Her publications include work on sanctions, diplomacy, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, along with the first full accounting of US counterterrorism spending after 9/11.


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