US & Canada

Neutron bomb inventor Samuel Cohen dies aged 89

The man who invented the neutron bomb, Samuel Cohen, has died in California, at the age of 89.

The neutron bomb was a small tactical nuclear weapon, which produced lethal tiny particles to kill enemy soldiers while leaving buildings largely undamaged.

Mr Cohen called it "the most sane weapon ever devised".

It was developed in the US in the 80s, but was soon condemned for making nuclear warfare more likely.

Only a small number of neutron warheads were produced, and Washington never deployed the weapon alongside its other nuclear forces in Europe because of the surrounding political controversy.

Many left-wingers and liberals in Europe and America dubbed it the "capitalist" bomb.

They said the massive destruction and wide fallout area associated with conventional nuclear weapons was the chief deterrent to their use.

'World intact'

Mr Cohen died from stomach cancer complications on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, his son told the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Mr Cohen developed the small neutron bomb in 1958, which used sub-atomic particles that could avoid buildings, but kill humans and other life forms, usually by attacking their central nervous system.

"It's the only nuclear weapon in history that makes sense in waging war. When the war is over, the world is still intact," he told the New York Times in September.

It also reduced the risk of long-term nuclear contamination as the neutrons dissipated quickly.

In the 1940s, Mr Cohen worked on the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb during World War II, focusing on the calculations for Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.

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