US drops the weapon that packs an 'atomic' punch
The Telegraph (U.K.) ^ | 11/07/2001 | Michael Smith

AMERICA has stepped up the pressure on terrorists using bombs with the same destructive force as a small thermo-nuclear device.

The 15,000lb BLU-82, or Daisy-Cutter high-blast bomb, the world's largest conventional device, was developed during the Vietnam War. The Americans are thought to have used only one of the devices so far against the Taliban.

It is so large that it is normally dropped from a C130 transport aircraft. A 4ft-long detonation rod, which emerges from the 17ft-long bomb after it is dropped, releases a cloud of inflammable ammonium nitrate, aluminum dust and polystyrene slurry.

This is then ignited by a second detonator, scorching the surrounding area, consuming oxygen and creating a shock wave and vacuum pressure that destroys the internal organs of anyone within range. A single bomb has the ability to clear a three-mile path through a minefield.

Like the B52 bombers dropping "long sticks" of bombs, commonly described as carpet bombing, the Daisy Cutter was used to great effect against Iraq's Republican Guard during the Gulf war.