The Sixth Seal Is Long Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting


Published: March 25, 2001

Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.

Q. What have you found?

A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.

Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?

 A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.

Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?

A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.

Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.

A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.

Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?

A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.

Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?

A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement.

There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.


China’s nuclear wild card: Daniel 7

China’s wild card entry accelerates the global arms race

A model of GJ-11 stealth armed reconnaissance drone is seen displayed at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Airshow China, in Zhuhai, China on 28 September 2021. REUTERS

China has taken a quantum leap in hypersonic technology by mounting DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle on DF17 MRBM, making it difficult to detect, thus exposing a vulnerability of global air defence systems.

In the post Second World War era, arms race was identified by the advances and innovations in conventional and nuclear weapons, with US and USSR leading the trend. After acquiring sufficient destructive force for Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), some common sense prevailed in the face of WMDs, and treaties such as the NPT, CTBT, INF and START, to mention a few, were signed by world powers. In the meantime, China continued to develop its comprehensive national power (CNP), which included significant advances in military modernisation and technology, using every possible means. China’s recent developments in hypersonic weapons, combined with AI, cyber, and biological warfare instruments, have alerted the world to some previously unknown vulnerabilities, triggering a new arms race with its wild, but loud announcement of the multidimensional threat it poses to its potential adversaries.

There are many drivers in the global arms race. In today’s world, every country aims to win, preferably without fighting, for which it needs to posture strong military power to deter the adversary with state-of-the-art arsenal, which triggers the arms race. The Chinese political aim is to displace US as the lone superpower, whereas the US would like to maintain its edge. Russia also wants to be counted as a world power with all the levers of power intact, but for its poor economy. China, on the other hand, has increased its CNP by improving its economy and defining its military objectives, such as modernising the PLA by 2035 and developing a world-class military capable of winning wars by 2049.
The threat to the country is the other driver in muti-domain warfare of today, which has elements of kinetic and non kinetic, contact and non-contact warfare elements, often exercised in the ambit of Grey Zone Warfare. China finds its large coastline, other navies in its backyard near the eastern seaboard as a threat, with its greatest vulnerability being the long sea lines of communication (SLOC). This explains the logic behind the rapid expansion of the PLA Navy. Russia’s threat is its economy, also western expansion; hence, as countermeasures, nearness to China, strong posturing in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea are the outcomes. The US has limited the conventional threat except from missiles, space assets and non-contact warfare elements like cyberwarfare.
The geography of a country is a constant in its CNP, where China is at a disadvantage. It is grossly short of energy, water, agriculture land; needs to defend large borders and coastline, with its eastern seaboard hemmed in by two island chains, from where maximum invasions took place in the past. The lack of warm water access for western China is also a handicap. The US on the other hand has enough security in energy, water, food, and faces no land border threat. Therefore, to checkmate the US, China has to develop its arsenal to pose an aerial threat including space, while threatening it by non-contact warfare elements like cyber, info warfare, economy etc. Russia is self-sufficient in energy, industry, technology, military, nuclear and space, but can be targeted economically.
China recognises that the US’ defence budget has been three to four times higher for decades, and it has vast superiority in conventional, nuclear, ballistic missiles, heavier naval craft, and aircraft that is difficult to match. As a result, China has attempted to gain supremacy in areas that could make the USA vulnerable, such as hypersonic glide vehicles, space, cyber, AI, robotics, and 6G networking, as well as the arsenal related to these technologies.
Arms race is a process with no permanent winner, because for every offensive innovation, new countermeasures are invented by the adversary. Arms race is also a vehicle on which many economies ride, which suits the arms dealers.

China has taken a quantum jump in hypersonic technology by mounting DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle on DF17 MRBM, making it difficult to detect, thus exposing a vulnerability of global air defence systems. The test involving Hypersonic glide vehicle space re-entry fractional orbital bombardment systems (FOBS) flying in low orbit, before accelerating towards a target, has put the US and other world powers on notice to start working on the counter technology, before it’s too late. China made use of provisions of UN Treaties and Principles of Outer Space, wherein WMD deployment in space is prohibited, but is silent on hypersonic re-entry. It has also put Russia on notice, which has such weapon systems, but is apprehensive that its technology might have been proliferated. The race is to bring the detection point as close to the target as possible, to minimise reaction time. The countermeasures will also see innovations through laser shield, enhanced detection capabilities in space or other technologies. It may not be a game changer, but it certainly threatens certain targets like aircraft carriers crucial to US striking power.
NUCLEAR ARSENAL: China is mindful of the vast gap it has in nuclear arsenal in comparison to the US and Russia. It developed a comprehensive missile programme, remaining out of some of the arms control treaties. China has set a target of having at least 700 nuclear warheads by 2027 and 1,000 warheads by 2030. It has also miniaturised nukes for tactical use in localised conflicts. Although it’s a signatory of NPT but the suspicion of proliferating nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan and North Korea remains. The US and Russia may not be keen to pursue a nuclear arms race, but China is certainly accelerating it.
PLA NAVY: China, in a short span of time, has considerably increased the numbers of combat assets of its Navy to become the largest Navy in the world, with 348 combat ships surpassing 296 of the US. Qualitatively, the US continues to have an upper edge in terms of 11 aircraft carriers, more nuclear submarines, cruisers, destroyers or large ships. China is expected to be increasing its Navy by 40% in the future, as it finds it grossly inadequate to protect its SLOC and global investments.
TECHNOLOGICAL LEAP: China has also made rapid strides in unmanned vehicles and robotics. Drone warfare will see a major arms race in innovations, as it has been a major game changer in the recent Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. The West is also developing area denial or anti access anti area weapon systems (A2AD), laser shields and direct energy weapons, to name a few innovations.

: For various reasons there is no evidence in the open domain that coronavirus was a biological weapon unleashed by China, but there is no evidence to the contrary as well. The involvement of Wuhan Institute of Virology, its alleged connection with the PLA, combined with circumstantial evidence point the needle of suspicion that it could well be a biological weapon, causing devastation never seen before. If these apprehensions are correct, China could have violated the Biological Weapons Convention.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: China is using state of the art artificial intelligence incorporated in a variety of military arsenal like robotics, missile guidance systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles including naval vessels.
CYBER WARFARE: Many countries and blocs like the UK, US and EU have been accusing China of launching large-scale cyber-attacks. China has put in place an exhaustive cyber as well as information warfare machinery, which others need to catch up to, to defend not only their military and civil systems, but also some of their essential services. Needless to say, the race will see similar capabilities being generated by others. China is thus looking to utilise disruptive technology to accelerate the arms race.

In the last decade, China has made significant strides in the arms industry to emerge as the third largest exporter of military equipment in the world. However, its equipment is still untested in a war and most of its purchasers are countries highly indebted to it or having some compulsions other than quality and reliability, to buy its hardware. It’s estimated that 60% of Pakistani hardware is of Chinese origin and 35% of hardware produced by China is purchased by its captive buyer, Pakistan.

Regionally, China wants a “China-centric Asia”, and has expedited the capacity-building of neighbours like India, which sees China as a threat because of its irresponsible aggressiveness in Ladakh and other areas along the LAC. Its overdrive to boost Pakistan’s military capacity, in order to strengthen the hybrid war against India, including the deployment of naval combat assets in the Arabian Sea, the transfer of technology to manufacture aircraft, and the suspected/alleged proliferation of nuclear and missile technology, are just a few examples to accelerate the arms race in South Asia. Should its plans of “winning without fighting” fail, China appears to be considering posing a two-and-a-half front threat in coordination with Pakistan, as well as an “informatised local conflict” if necessary.
Major General S.B. Asthana is a retired Army veteran. The views expressed are that of the author, who retains the copyright.

No Nuclear War with Russia…Yet: Revelation 16

US hardens rhetoric against Russia border invasion plans
US hardens rhetoric against Russia border military build up

Ukraine-Russia tensions: Is invasion imminent? America says yes. Russia says no. China watches on

The degree of certainty with which American officials are now characterising Russia’s intensions towards Ukraine suggests that something has changed over the past 24 to 48 hours.

American officials will not be drawn publicly on their intelligence assessments, but their language has hardened.

The US president had a briefing with his national security team on Thursday evening. America’s top general spoke on the phone to his Russian counterpart.

The degree of certainty with which they are now characterising Russia’s intensions towards Ukraine suggests that something has changed over the past 24 to 48 hours.

There have been a curious range and number of meetings too about which little has been revealed.

Britain’s military chief, alongside the UK defence secretary, held face-to-face talks with their Russian counterparts.

Then there was the president’s language in a primetime interview on Thursday night. “Things could go crazy quickly…” Joe Biden told NBC News as he urged American citizens to leave Ukraine now.

Was this just characteristically loose language by the president? Or did it reflect a change in the US assessment of Vladimir Putin’s intensions?

Late on Friday, a senior defence official at the Pentagon in Washington said that additional US troops will be sent to eastern Europe.

“At the direction of the president, Secretary Austin today ordered to Poland the remaining 3,000 soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Bragg, N.C. They are expected to be in place by early next week,” the official said.

For a few weeks now there’s been a suggestion that President Putin would not want to upstage China by mounting an invasion during the Winter Olympics.

The logic being that Putin wouldn’t want to steal Xi Jinping’s big moment. “Don’t bet on it” is now the American judgement of that assessment.

Vladimir Putin is testing Western unity and resolve which, despite protestations, seems somewhat shaky.

China’s Xi Jinping only has one eye on his Winter Games. In an emerging world order, his dominant eye is on Ukraine.

Western resolve today will shape Xi’s judgements tomorrow.

Hamas Tests the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Seeking to test underground border barrier, Hamas ups terror tunnels construction

Seeking to test underground border barrier, Hamas ups terror tunnels construction

Defense officials say the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip has been stepping up its effort to breach the underground barrier Israel dug on its border with the coastal enclave.

Hamas is accelerating the construction of terror tunnels seeking to breach the underground barrier Israel dug on its border with the coastal enclave, a military official told the Walla news website on Sunday.

In early December, Israel announced the completion of a sensor-equipped underground wall on its side of the Gaza border – a counter-measure developed after Hamas terrorists used tunnels to blindside its troops during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Stretching 65 kilometers (40 miles), the barrier also includes an aboveground fence, a naval barrier, command and control centers, hundreds of cameras, radars, and sensors, as well as a range of other defenses. Over 140,000 tons of iron and steel were used in its construction, which took over three years to complete.

The aboveground “smart fence” is more than 6 meters (20 feet) high and its maritime barrier includes means to detect infiltration by sea and a remote-controlled weapons system.

Military officials in the Gaza Division told Wallathat while the construction of the barrier was underway, dozens of terror tunnels that crossed into Israel’s territory were exposed.

The majority of Hamas’ grid of terror tunnels was eliminated during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021, when the Israeli Air Force carried out a series of massive raids that destroyed miles of offensive tunnels and killed what the IDF believes to be dozens of Hamas terrorists.

Hamas has vowed to rebuild the labyrinth of underground passageways and has placed its military wing, the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, in charge of the effort.

According to the report, some of the terror tunnels Hamas has been trying to build reached the wall, where a terrorist cell is likely to try and breach it using explosives.

Hamas is also likely to “test” the underground wall’s various sensors and radars to devise ways around them, the report said.

“This is a game of cat and mouse,” the report cited a defense official as saying.

“They [Hamas] are still busy studying the IDF’s technological systems. Once they understand how strong it is and that it’s impossible to cross the underground wall, they will look for another path with which to threaten us.”

The Iranian Horn Celebrates Her Anniversary: Daniel 8

Iran celebrates revolution’s anniversary with defiant tone amid nuclear talks

The U.S. has warned talks to revive the nuclear deal are at an “urgent point.”

On Location: February 12, 2022Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.IMA Media via AP

As nuclear talks enter what U.S. officials have described as the “final moment,” Iran struck a defiant tone Friday, marking the forty-third anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that brought to power its hardline government.

In the streets of Tehran, thousands celebrated in convoys of cars and motorbikes because of COVID-19 restrictions — waving flags, honking horns, and displaying “Down with U.S.A.” signs.

But elsewhere across the capital, a weary Iranian public suffering under years of tight U.S. sanctions and economic mismanagement are eager for relief, especially from sky-high inflation, which now exceeds 40%.

Whether they’ll see a significant reprieve soon depends on the diplomatic efforts underway in Austria, where the U.S. and Iran are negotiating through proxies in an attempt to resuscitate a President Barack Obama-era nuclear deal.

At its core, the 2015 agreement saw the U.S. and international community lift certain sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program — a swap that was disrupted by former President Donald Trump when he exited the deal and reimposed crushing U.S. sanctions in 2018 — an attempt to strengthen his hand in negotiations.

But in response, Iran has since then escalated its nuclear program, enriching enough uranium at high-enough levels that U.S. officials say they are just “weeks” away from having enough for a nuclear bomb.

One week ago, President Joe Biden’s administration waived sanctions related to Iran’s civilian nuclear program, exempting foreign countries and companies that work with Tehran on nonproliferation projects from penalties.

The move is aimed at laying the groundwork for resuming U.S. compliance with the 2015 deal, but Iran’s foreign ministry called it “insufficient,” with its president dismissive of the ongoing talks in the Austrian capital.

“We put our hopes on the east, west, north, south of our country and never have any hope in Vienna and New York,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in a speech Friday.

Raisi’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by chants of “Death to America” — a familiar slogan that dates back to the 1979 revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed ruler and ushered in an Islamist government, led by a supreme leader known by the clerical title, ayatollah.

But for the thousands of Iranians joining the protests and burning flags, there are thousands more who lament the economic situation, desperate for relief.

“The high prices are really hurting us,” one woman out shopping with her mother told ABC News. She declined to identify herself.

“I’m not that much into politics. I like my country, but the only problem is that things are really expensive, and when we have problems, states people do not really solve them,” she said, adding that since Raisi was inaugurated in August, “Nothing has changed. Nothing has gotten better. Things are even getting worse after him.”

Omid Kalavi, a toymaker in Tehran, said inflation has meant more people come to him for repairs than to purchase new toys for their children.

“I’m not a politician, but as far as I know, people are those who suffer the most from the political games. I can’t say our government or the United States because of imposing sanctions — I don’t know exactly to be honest, but as far as I know, people are suffering from it most.”

Without a deal, that economic hardship will continue. A senior State Department official said the U.S. would “fortify our response” if it has to walk away from talks, “and that means more pressure — economic, diplomatic, and otherwise.”

The Biden administration’s efforts to negotiate a mutual return to the deal have not yielded results in 10 months of talks. When the two sides were making progress last June, the talks went on hiatus for Iran’s presidential elections.

Raisi’s government stalled for months before resuming negotiations in late November. After making hardline demands at the start of the new round of talks, they returned last month “in a serious, business-like negotiation,” the senior State Department official said.

But time is running out to reach a new agreement. U.S. Special Envoy to Iran Rob Malley and other senior administration officials briefed Capitol Hill Wednesday on Iran’s growing nuclear stockpile and the urgency of talks, which lawmakers described as “sobering” and “shocking.”

Breakout time has gone from a year to a matter of weeks,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., echoing what Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other officials have said in recent weeks. Murphy added that “a deal is in sight, but there is significant gaps between the two sides that need to be closed.”

The senior State Department official declined to discuss how much distance remains between both sides, saying nothing was agreed until everything was agreed. But Iran has demanded some sort of guarantee that a future U.S. administration cannot again exit the deal — the kind of promise any American president can’t give — while also publicly calling for the U.S. to completely lift sanctions first.

On the other side, the U.S. has warned that Tehran’s nuclear stockpile must return to the deal’s levels — enriching uranium to 3.67% and with a stockpile of 300 kilograms for the first 15 years of the deal.

“If is not reached … in the coming weeks, Iran’s ongoing nuclear advances will make it impossible for us to return to the JCPOA,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday, using an acronym for the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

But many critics say that point has already passed. Iran is spinning more advanced centrifuges and building more of them, enriching uranium metal, and enriching uranium up to 60% purity — a short technical step from weapons-grade, which is above 90%.

Some analysts say the scientific knowledge Iran has developed since the deal was scrapped will be impossible to eliminate.

“You cannot put the genie back into the bottle. Once you know how to do stuff, you know, and the only way to check this is through verification,” Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — told the Financial Times last year.

But restoring the deal is intended to allow for that verification, ensuring Iran does not use its program to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran has obstructed the IAEA’s work repeatedly in recent years. It has failed to account for uranium detected at three undeclared sites, and for a year now, it has barred the agency from reviewing data from surveillance equipment at Iran’s declared sites.

The obstruction, which also includes harassing some IAEA inspectors, “was seriously affecting the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” the IAEA reported in late November.

Growing Fear of Nuclear War With Russia: Daniel 7

Russia is being accused of moving their 'Atomic Cannons' to within 10 miles of the Ukraine border
Russia is being accused of moving their ‘Atomic Cannons’ to within 10 miles of the Ukraine border

FEARS of a nuclear clash in Ukraine soared yesterday as it was revealed Russia has moved its terrifying “atomic cannon” to within striking distance of a major city.

A battery of self-propelled guns capable of firing nuclear shells have been captured on video in the Russian town of Vesela Lopan, Bolgorod – just 10 miles from the Ukrainian border.

Video of the Russian 2S7 Pion guns - known as 'Soviet atomic cannons' - near the Ukraine border
Video of the Russian 2S7 Pion guns – known as ‘Soviet atomic cannons’ – near the Ukraine borderCredit: Not known, clear with picture desk

Social media users posted videos showing the huge 2S7 Pion guns – known as the “Soviet atomic cannon” – within range of the Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv.

The fearsome weapon – one of the most powerful artillery weapons ever built – can carry up to four 203 mm nuclear shells capable of decimating huge areas.

Their deployment came as Vladimir Putin warned nuclear war could erupt if Ukraine joins NATO and accused the West of “complete disregard for our concerns” as peace talks failed.

Tensions rose further as President Joe Biden called on all American citizens to evacuate Ukraine immediately owing to the Russian threat.

Biden warned yesterday: “Things could go crazy quickly.”

Kharkiv – a major industrial city of 1.3 million people – is just 19 miles from the Russian border and well within range of the newly arrived atomic gun.

The cannon are hundreds of miles from tens of thousands of Russian troops and allies taking part in the biggest war game exercise since the Cold War in nearby Belarus.

Meanwhile, Russia’s spy chief claimed preparations for war are “in full swing” – and that Ukraine was about to trigger an attack backed by The West.

Spy chief Sergei Naryshkin – who leads the equivalent of the CIA and MI6 – warned the “existence of humanity” was at stake.

He spoke out amid NATO fears that Moscow is now looking for an excuse to invade while denying any intention to strike first.

Russian state TV is increasingly portraying Ukrainian military operations in the disputed Donbas region as “offensive”.

And the FSB counterintelligence agency has detained dozens of young people claiming they are behind Ukraine-led terrorist bomb threats against Russian schools and colleges.

Intelligence chief Naryashkin – a close Putin ally – said: “All combat-ready units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are concentrated on the border with Donbas”.

Accusing the West of stoking a full-blown conflict, he said: “There is a massive transfer of hundreds of tonnes of military equipment and ammunition from US bases in Europe, from Britain, and Canada.

“The contingent of advisers and instructors from NATO special forces is being increased.

“The Western world hasn’t yet come to realise how much the danger of growing mistrust among countries is threatening the existence of humanity.”

He hit out even though it was his boss Putin who stoked the crisis by moving 140,000 troops to Ukraine’s borders in the south and east and engaging 80,000 more in exercises in Belarus to the north.

The war of words hotted up as another Russian station branded British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss a “tankistka” – or female tank driver – after her peace bids were snubbed.

But Kremlin official Dmitry Kozak praised Putin appeasers France and Germany claiming they were “sympathetic” to Russia’s demands on security guarantees.

The second day of war games in Belarus featured a show of firepower from Su-35 warjets, in action just half an hour’s flying time from Ukrainian capital Kiev.

Russia's 2S7 Pion guns are reportedly capable of firing nuclear warheads
Russia’s 2S7 Pion guns are reportedly capable of firing nuclear warheadsCredit:
Vladimir Putin is being accused to stoking a nuclear war with the West
Vladimir Putin is being accused to stoking a nuclear war with the WestCredit: AP
S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems stationed in Belarus for joint war games with Russia
S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems stationed in Belarus for joint war games with RussiaCredit: Getty

A new era of nuclear proliferation: Revelation 16


Are we on the brink of a new era of nuclear proliferation?

Why a growing list of countries might conclude they need the bomb

Illustrated | iStock

Picture of Noah Millman


FEBRUARY 11, 2022

In Vienna, American and Iranian officials are racing to find a way back in to the abandoned 2015 deal to restrain Iran’s nuclear program before Tehran’s uranium enrichment advances so far it’s no longer plausible to turn it back. Things have already gone so far, in fact, that some observers wonder whether the effort is still worth it.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, French and German officials are attempting to restart another set of talks that have languished since 2015, the so-called Normandy format talks between Russia and Ukraine. As with Iran, the clock is ticking before fatal rubicons are crossed that cannot be crossed back.

Apart from being showcases for the possibilities and limits of diplomacy, the two negotiations would seem to have nothing in common. But under the surface, they both reflect the decline in the nuclear nonproliferation regime over the past quarter century — and suggest the possibility that we stand on the brink of a wider spread of nuclear weapons.

To explain why, we have to take a trip back to 1994.

1994 was a banner year for nuclear non-proliferation efforts. It was the year the United States and North Korea entered into the Agreed Framework, which provided North Korea with light water reactors in exchange for them shutting down their existing nuclear power plant, which was far more useful for supporting a clandestine nuclear weapons program. The agreement was made at the last minute, averting a confrontation that could easily have led to war.

But within a decade, it was undone, with both the United States and North Korea blaming each other for violating its terms. North Korea acknowledged it had been conducting a secret nuclear weapons program with support from Pakistan, withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2003, and within a few years had become a full-fledged nuclear power.

Also in 1994, Ukraine agreed to destroy the vast nuclear arsenal it inherited with the collapse of the Soviet Union, accepting the assurances of the Budapest Memorandum in exchange. Ukraine had limited choice in the matter — they had no operational control of the weapons, and both the United States and Russia firmly pressured them to relinquish them. Nonetheless, the agreement was widely hailed as a landmark of nonproliferation.

Once again, diplomacy failed to hold over the long term, but with very different consequences. Ukraine now faces overt coercion by Russia, its nuclear-armed neighbor, an outcome that was predictable — and predicted — in 1994.

The lesson American hawks tend to take from contrasts like the foregoing is that diplomacy is futile and America should rely instead on threats of force. If Iran doesn’t give up its nuclear program, we should destroy that program militarily. If Russia doesn’t stop threatening Ukraine, we should be prepared to repel them.

But this is a doctrine premised on frankly fantastic assessments of American power, and an appalling indifference to the terrible costs of war. Indeed, it doesn’t even reckon with the ways in which America’s penchant for interventionism has undermined the nonproliferation regime we claim to be enforcing. After our catastrophic war in Iraq, undertaken ostensibly to end the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, Libya revealed and dismantled its own clandestine nuclear program to avoid a similar fate. When NATO attacked Libya several years later, the lesson was well-learned in capitals around the world.

That lesson is the truly important one that connects Ukraine and Iran: Nuclear weapons are too indiscriminately destructive to be very useful as offensive weapons. But they are quite useful for states under threat from large and powerful neighbors, or from more distant but hostile great powers. In an era characterized by great power competition rather than cooperation, that obvious utility may be increasingly hard for diplomacy to overcome.

Consider Iran’s rational assessment of their interests. They have been repeatedly threatened by American administrations. When they agreed with one American administration to accept restrictions on their nuclear weapons program, the next American administration promptly tore up the deal. Knowing nothing else, it would make sense for Iran to hedge their bets and preserve the option to follow the North Korea path simply to preserve a deterrent against a future American attack.

By the same logic, however, if the United States fails to restrain Iran by diplomatic means, it would be rational for Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other states in the region to consider their own deterrent capacity. Would they trust that the United States would remain robust in their defense against an Iran that, no doubt, would operate with greater impunity in a world where it operated from behind a nuclear shield? Looking at our response to the Ukraine crisis, they should rationally have their doubts.

Nor is the Middle East the only theater where the logic of nuclear proliferation could take hold. China has made it clear that the reabsorption of Taiwan is their paramount foreign policy priority, and their military capacity to achieve that goal by force continues to burgeon. America’s ability to prevent an invasion, meanwhile, is increasingly in doubt, even as we have gotten closer and closer to formally committing to doing so. Taiwan’s best security lies in its own ability to deter invasion. At some point, might they not consider nuclear weapons as an indispensable element in such a strategy?

Once you start making lists, it’s hard to stop. If Ukraine is dismembered, should Poland trust NATO will protect them forever? And shouldn’t Venezuela worry that one day an American president will decide to do what former President Donald Trump failed to do and rid himself of a troublesome annoyance?

From the U.K. and France to China and India, to Pakistan and Israel and North Korea, today’s nuclear powers made their choices to cross the atomic rubicon to deter more-powerful neighbors and avoid being too dependent on more-powerful allies. Nuclear weapons couldn’t solve all their foreign policy problems and were certainly no substitute for building the economic and demographic strength that sustains broader military capability. But they did preclude winding up in Ukraine’s position.

For a surprisingly long list countries eager to avoid a similar fate, that might be reason enough.