Near steep vineyards of riesling grapes, in an underground vault at an air force base in western Germany, sits an American nuclear bomb. More than one of them, actually. Each bomb is about the length of two refrigerators laid down end to end and as heavy as the average adult male musk ox. The bombs are slender and pointy and a little more than a foot wide.
Experts estimate that there are about 100 such bombs stored among five NATO countries, ready to be loaded on jets and dropped by the United States and its allies – old-school style, parachute and all – toward an enemy target. One version of this bomb can carry the explosive equivalent of 11 Hiroshimas.