The science behind the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

The science behind the earthquake that shook Southern New England

Did you feel it? At 9:10 am EST Sunday morning, a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck just south of Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, which is a census-designated place in Dartmouth. If you felt it, report it!

While minor earthquakes do happen from time to time in New England, tremors that are felt by a large number of people and that cause damage are rare.

Earthquake Report

The earthquake was originally measured as a magnitude 4.2 on the Richter scale by the United States Geological Surgey (USGS) before changing to a 3.6.

Earthquakes in New England and most places east of the Rocky Mountains are much different than the ones that occur along well-known fault lines in California and along the West Coast.

Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts fall nearly in the center of the North American Plate, one of 15 (seven primary, eight secondary) that cover the Earth.

Earth’s tectonic plates

Tectonic plates move ever-so-slowly, and as they either push into each other, pull apart, or slide side-by-side, earthquakes are possible within the bedrock, usually miles deep.

Most of New England’s and Long Island’s bedrock was assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent 500-300 million years ago, raising the northern Appalachian Mountains.

Plate tectonics (Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Fault lines left over from the creation of the Appalachian Mountains can still lead to earthquakes locally, and many faults remain undetected. According to the USGS, few, if any, earthquakes in New England can be linked to named faults.

While earthquakes in New England are generally much weaker compared to those on defined fault lines, their reach is still impressive. Sunday’s 3.6 was felt in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire.

USGS Community Internet Intensity Map

While M 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause damage, some minor cracks were reported on social media from the shaking.

According to the USGS, moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year.

The largest known New England earthquakes occurred in 1638 (magnitude 6.5) in Vermont or New Hampshire, and in 1755 (magnitude 5.8) offshore from Cape Ann northeast of Boston.

The most recent New England earthquake to cause moderate damage occurred in 1940 (magnitude 5.6) in central New Hampshire.

The Rising South Korean Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

7 in 10 South Koreans want nuclear weapons to defend against China and North Korea threats, poll reveals

Carl Samson

Wed, February 23, 2022, 4:33 PM·2 min read

Seven in 10 South Koreans support their country developing its own nuclear weapons, according to a survey report released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Tuesday.

The poll, which surveyed 1,500 respondents aged 18 and above, was conducted from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4, 2021, by Hankook Research in South Korea.

Results show that 71% of respondents are in favor of developing a domestic nuclear program, while 56% support a U.S. deployment. When asked to choose between the two options, however, 67% preferred an independent arsenal, while only 9% opted for an American deployment.

The poll’s findings do not strongly align with reasons for armament cited by some local politicians and analysts, the Chicago Council said. While many have attributed public support for nuclear acquisition to concerns over the strength of the nation’s alliance with the U.S., 61% of poll respondents who believe that the U.S. will defend South Korea in the event of an attack were positively associated with support for nuclear acquisition.

The report also reflects that “threats other than North Korea” was the primary driver of support for weapons acquisition, with 55% saying that China “will be South Korea’s biggest threat in 10 years.”

“I believe North Korea’s missile tests are no longer threatening South Koreans anymore,” Kang Hyun-seok, a worker based in Seoul, told The Diplomat. “I think South Koreans now think that the diplomatic overtures can only succeed when South Korea be a [sic] more powerful country with nuclear missile technologies, considering how North Korea treated South Korea in the nuclear talks.”

Other reasons for supporting nuclear armament included “increasing South Korea’s prestige in the international community” (26%), “countering the North Korean threat” (23%) and preparing for theoretical shifts such as a U.S. withdrawal (11%).

Still, 46% of respondents selected North Korea as the top national security threat at present. A glaring 82% also believe that Pyongyang will not give up its nuclear weapons.

Authors of the report believe U.S. policymakers should take South Koreans’ views into account.

“We can’t just ignore this. We can’t treat it as, ‘the public is emotional on these issues,’” co-author Toby Dalton told the Washington Post. Dalton is also the co-director and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment’s Nuclear Policy Program.

While support for a domestic nuclear program is strong, South Korea can currently neither develop its own weapons nor redeploy those coming from the U.S., as Seoul is a signatory of the global Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) from 1970.

The U.S. withdrew all its nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, as per The New York Times. Subsequently, representatives in both South and North Korea signed an agreement to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, but the North has never followed through.

The Nuclear Holocaust Cometh: Revelation 16

Nuclear War Risk Rises as Tension Mounts Between Nuclear Superpowers over Ukraine


  • Ira Helfandformer president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and co-founder and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to order troops into the separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine has triggered a new wave of sanctions against Russia, amid fears the situation could spiral into an all-out war. We speak with Dr. Ira Helfand, former president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, who warns a war could lead to the use of nuclear weapons that would annihilate millions and cause total collapse of world ecosystems. “We have found it almost impossible to imagine, 30 years after the end of the Cold War, that there could be a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, but the crisis in Ukraine is putting exactly that possibility on the table again,” says Helfand.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: President Biden has denounced what he called the “beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into two separatist regions of eastern Ukraine while recognizing the areas as independent states. During a speech at the White House, Biden announced new sanctions against Russia and criticized Putin’s actions.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: He’s setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view. And if we listen to his speech last night — and many of you did, I know — he’s — he’s setting up a rationale to go much further. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as he indicated and asked permission to be able to do from his Duma.

AMY GOODMAN: It remains unclear if Russian troops have actually entered he Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where 14,000 people have died over the past eight years in fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces. Putin has defended his decision to order troops into the separatist-controlled areas, claiming they were needed for, quote, “peacekeeping.” But U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres blasted Russia’s rationale.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: When troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not impartial peacekeepers. They are not peacekeepers at all.

AMY GOODMAN: On the diplomatic front, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has canceled talks scheduled for tomorrow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Meanwhile, Ukraine has declared a state of emergency and urged all its citizens to leave Russia, where as many as 3 million Ukrainians live. This comes as the United States has announced plans to move 800 U.S. soldiers to the Baltics, along with eight F-35 strike fighters and 20 Apache attack helicopters. Another 12 U.S. Apache attack helicopters are heading to Poland.

As the prospect of a broader war increases, we turn now to look at an issue seldom discussed in the corporate media. Could the conflict over Ukraine lead to a nuclear war?

We’re joined now by Dr. Ira Helfand, the immediate past president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He’s also co-founder and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and serves on the international steering group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. His article “Ukraine and the Threat of Nuclear War” was recently published in The Nation.

Dr. Helfand, welcome to Democracy Now! Just address this issue. Can you talk about what is at stake?

DR. IRA HELFAND: Good morning, Amy.

And, yeah, there’s a whole lot at stake, unfortunately. We have found it almost impossible to imagine, 30 years after the end of the Cold War, that there could be a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, but the crisis in Ukraine is putting exactly that possibility on the table again. If the conflict there spreads, if NATO and Russia get drawn into active combat, both of these blocs have in their military doctrine provision for the use of military weapons if things are not going well in a conventional war. And we have to understand that as long as nuclear weapons are on the table in this way, it is possible they will be used.

The consequences would be absolutely catastrophic. If even a single 100-kiloton bomb was detonated over the Kremlin, a quarter of a million people would die; was detonated over Washington, over the Capitol, 100,000 people would die — 170,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of people would be injured, overwhelming the ability of local hospitals to take care of these patients. But if we escalate to the use of nuclear weapons, it is not likely that a single bomb would be used on a single city on each side. Rather, it’s more likely that many cities in each country would be attacked with many nuclear weapons. And the studies that we have done, back as far back as 2003, show that if just 300 of the 1,500 strategic weapons that the Russians deploy at this moment — if just 300 of these weapons detonated over cities in the United States, 75 million to 100 million people would die in the first half-hour. The entire economic structure of the country would be destroyed. Everything that the population depends on to maintain itself — the internet, the electric grid, the public health system, the food distribution system — it would all be gone. The same thing would happen in Russia with a comparable U.S. attack on Russian cities. And these are just the direct effects, the immediate effects.

A war between the United States and Russia would be a worldwide climate disaster. Hundreds of millions — perhaps as much as 150 million tons of soot would be put into the upper atmosphere, blocking out the sun, dropping temperatures across the planet an average of 18 degrees Fahrenheit. In the interior regions of North America and Eurasia, temperatures would drop 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. We haven’t seen temperatures on this planet that cold since the last ice age. And under these conditions, the ecosystems which have evolved in the last 10,000 years would collapse, food production would stop, and the vast majority of the human race would starve to death. This is what we’re facing. And this is the danger we’re going to be facing as long as we allow nuclear weapons to exist.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, well, Dr. Helfand, isn’t implicit, in terms of what you’re saying, one of the reasons why President Biden has repeatedly said that he has no intention of sending American military into Ukraine in case there is an invasion? What’s your sense — Ukraine itself had nuclear weapons under the old Soviet Union. It gave up its nuclear weapons. What’s your sense of the likelihood of this potentially occurring, that Russia will decide at one point or another, or the United States — if you could talk about where are the U.S. nuclear weapons? Where are they stationed right now in terms of potential for use of them in case of a wider war?

DR. IRA HELFAND: Well, it’s impossible to put a number, a percent number, on what the likelihood is that this is going to happen. And hopefully it won’t happen. But Russia has today about 1,500 strategic warheads and about another 2,000 tactical warheads. The United States has about 1,500 strategic warheads and about 100 tactical warheads stationed in Europe. Britain has about 120 deployed nuclear warheads. France has about 280 deployed nuclear warheads. So there’s a lot of potentially inflammable material sitting on the battlefield.

We don’t know what’s going to happen in Ukraine. Part of the problem is just that. When a conflict starts, there’s what people refer to commonly as the fog of war. Planning that was put in place before the conflict often becomes irrelevant. People lose contact with military units. Unexpected things happen. And we just don’t know how a conflict would play out. I think, as you mentioned, President Biden has appropriately indicated that the U.S. would not plan to send military troops into Ukraine in response to a Russian invasion, but that does not mean that we are foolproofed against an escalation of this conflict, because there are so many things that can go wrong once a war starts, as we saw in Ukraine — excuse me, as we saw in Iraq, that the war plan that the U.S. had sketched out before the conflict was not what happened. Totally unpredicted things, from the U.S. point of view, occurred. And the same thing can happen in a conflict in Ukraine.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, on February 8th, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned nuclear war would become more likely if Ukraine joined NATO. This is what he said.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] I want to stress this one more time. I’ve been saying it, but I very much want you to finally hear me and deliver it to your audiences in print, TV and online. Do you realize that if Ukraine joins NATO and decides to take Crimea back through military means, the European countries will automatically get drawn into a military conflict with Russia? Of course, NATO’s united potential and that of Russia are incomparable. We understand that. But we also understand that Russia is one of the world’s leading nuclear powers and is superior to many of those countries in terms of the number of modern nuclear force components. There will be no winners.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What about that statement by President Putin, in essence, alerting the other side, the United States and NATO, of the potential for a conflict like this to spiral out of control?

DR. IRA HELFAND: Well, the last point that he made, “There will be no winners,” is certainly the key here. But there has been no shortage of nuclear saber-rattling on the part of Russia or on the part of NATO and the United States. And that’s been particularly troubling over the last few years. It’s flown under the radar as far as much of the U.S. population has been aware of. But we have conducted exercises of nuclear-capable forces along the borders of Russia. Russia has conducted exercises of nuclear-capable forces along the borders of NATO. Both countries are spending enormous amounts of money enhancing their nuclear forces.

And this is, frankly, an insane policy. You know, we have survived this far into the nuclear era only because we have been unaccountably lucky. Robert McNamara, I think, summed it up best. He said, “We lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war.” It’s not because we had wise leaders or sound policies or infallible technology. And the current policy of the United States, of Russia, of China — of each of the countries which possesses a nuclear arsenal — is essentially a hope for continued good luck. And that’s an insane basis for policy. We can’t assume our luck is going to last forever. Sooner or later, if these weapons are allowed to exist, they’re going to get used. And if they are used, the consequence is going to be absolutely catastrophic.

I talked a few minutes ago about what would happen in a large-scale war between the United States and Russia. Even a much more limited war, as might take place between NATO and Russia or might take place between India and Pakistan, we now understand, would be a global disaster. As few as 250 relatively small nuclear weapons, less than a half of a percent of the world’s nuclear arsenals, can cause enough climate disruption to tank agricultural production across the planet and trigger a global famine that we have estimated could put up to 2 billion people at risk of starvation.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And apart —

DR. IRA HELFAND: That would not —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you: Apart from the nuclear weapons, do you have any concerns about nuclear power plants? Because Ukraine, obviously, has a significant portion of its energy is provided by nuclear plants. There’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, that has — about 140 miles from the Donbas region, which has five reactors. Do you have any concerns about that in case of an armed conflict?

AMY GOODMAN: And, Juan, let me dovetail off of that. You also have, of course, Chernobyl, which the meltdown that took place in 1986 — in 1986, which occurred in the Soviet Union, which is now Ukraine, close to the border with Belarus. As, Juan, you said, Ukraine operates four nuclear power plants with a total of 15 nuclear reactors, one of them the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, located 120 miles from the Donbas region, where the separatists and the Ukrainian forces have been fighting for years. Ukraine and the region could face another Chernobyl, or worse, if one of these plants was bombed or went offline due to a power outage, a fire, or if workers fled due to a threat of violence. I want to turn to a recent presentation made by Linda Pentz Gunter of the group Beyond Nuclear.

LINDA PENTZ GUNTER: What if one or more of these reactors takes an accidental hit from a bomb or missile or even just artillery fire? Then we could be talking about another Chernobyl — or, actually, multiple Chernobyls. A hit could destroy the reactor immediately. That’s really the worst of all possible outcomes. But even if the reactor is severely damaged or disabled, then you start to lose coolant, and the reactor heats up, the fuel rods are exposed, and explosive gases are created. One spark, and you could see an explosion, as we did at three of the Fukushima reactors. Some of the workforce may be injured or killed or struggling to shut down the remaining reactors. And added to that, if the spent fuel pools boil and evaporate, exposing the rods, these could catch fire. And a fuel pool fire is even worse than the reactor exploding, because spent fuel pools contain a far hotter radioactive inventory than the reactor itself. Those radioactive releases would be dispersed across thousands of miles. We’ve already had a glimpse of what that would look like for human health after Chernobyl. But this time it would be worse. Ukraine’s 15 reactors are all much older than Chernobyl Unit 4 was in 1986. They have bigger radioactive inventories, and they are all multiple reactor sites. People all across Europe would be affected.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Linda Pentz Gunter of the group Beyond Nuclear, speaking over the weekend on a webinar organized by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Dr. Helfand’s group. Dr. Helfand, you also took part in that webinar. Can you talk about these concerns of a war occurring in Ukraine, a nation that relies so heavily on nuclear power?

DR. IRA HELFAND: Well, I think Linda summed it up extremely eloquently. There is a grave danger that these reactors could experience meltdowns. And this is also something that potentially could happen in Russia, where there are also large numbers of nuclear reactors. It does not require a direct hit in combat. A loss of electricity would result in a cooling failure and in a meltdown, as happened at Fukushima. And, you know, there are 93 nuclear reactors, I believe it is, in the United States today, many across the rest of Europe. And each of these reactors is essentially a prepositioned weapon a mass destruction that we create and build and make available to potential enemies to detonate on our own territory.

Ukraine is in a very difficult situation because of its reliance on these reactors for 50% of its electricity. These reactors are extremely vulnerable if the conflict that is now unfolding spreads, and there could be meltdowns at any one of them, with severe radiological consequences, enormous areas contaminated by radioactive material, many, many people exposed, many deaths, many cancers. It is one of the things that we need to be worried about in this situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Ira, who’s paying attention to this in the Biden administration?

DR. IRA HELFAND: I’m not sure. And I don’t mean to be particularly critical of the Biden administration. I think this is a problem with all governments that have nuclear weapons. They make their plans as if either the weapons won’t be used or, if they are used, somehow or other it will all turn out OK. And we have always been shocked by the degree of ignorance on the part of world leaders about the potential damage that would be caused by their own nuclear arsenals. It’s part of the job, I think, of citizens in general, the physicians’ movement in particular, to educate leaders and the general public about this danger. No rational person who understood what nuclear weapons could do if they are used would countenance the continued existence of these nuclear arsenals. And that’s why we’ve seen so many of the people who were architects of the nuclear arsenals, of the whole nuclear strategy, who later in life turn into impassioned critics of this whole way of dealing with security.

Internationally, we’ve seen the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted now by — 59 countries have ratified the treaty, calling on all governments that have these weapons to abandon them and to negotiate the details they need to for a verifiable, enforceable, time-bound arrangement to dismantle the remaining warheads. Here in the United States, the Back from the Brink campaign has been launched to try to bring about the fundamental change in U.S. nuclear policy that is necessary to get us to a more safe place.

We have assumed as a nation, and the other nuclear powers have assumed as nations, that nuclear weapons make them safe. What we need to understand is that nuclear weapons are the greatest threat to our security. And our security as a human community demands that we eliminate these weapons as soon as possible. Our luck is not going to last forever. Sooner or later, these weapons are going to be used if we don’t get rid of them. And we have to understand that, and we have to take action based on that understanding.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Ira Helfand, we want to thank you for being with us, immediate past president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, also co-founder and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and serves on the international steering group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. We’ll link to your article in The Nation, “Ukraine and the Threat of Nuclear War.”

Next up, we go to Georgia, where, for the first time in George’s history, Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers have been found guilty of federal hate crimes. Stay with us.

The Iraqi Horn Arises: Daniel 8

Leave them alone this time: Iraq is reclaiming its sovereignty


February 23, 2022

History has been particularly unfair to Iraq. The country has repeatedly tried to gain prestige and claim the foothold it deserves within the Arab world and the Middle East. But any prolonged stability or progress for Iraq seems to have been constantly barred. Nevertheless, the country might be finally ready to act and become truly independent again.

In the late 1960s, Saddam Hussein concentrated control of what became known as Ba’athist Iraq. Saddam wielded absolute control over institutions, packing higher offices with family members to ensure loyalty, putting Shiite-majority Iraq under the total command of minority Sunnis. The Shiites revolted, but Saddam violently crushed demonstrations. He also led the ethnic cleansing of minority Kurds in the north, using chemical weapons to decimate hundreds of thousands of people.

Saddam was a racist, hateful and arguably sadistic leader, but he had one asset: his belligerent temper. Saddam knew the power of his silent Shiite majority and knew Iran would try to influence them to interfere in Iraqi affairs. Barely a year after Ayatollah Khomeini declared the Islamic Republic, Saddam went guns blazing and declared war on his neighbor. Despite Saddam’s quick advancement and the favor of Iraq’s formidable military, the conflict turned into one of the late 20th century’s bloodiest, costing millions of lives. Although it ultimately ended in a stalemate, Saddam had effectively braced Iran, earning him credit and financial support of Arab counterparts who shared his goal of preventing Iran’s expansion.

That is where Saddam made his first mistake. Already filthy rich with oil, he led the invasion of Kuwait in retaliation for their refusal to forgive upwards of $8 billion of debt from the Iraq-Iran War. The move cost Iraq the support of the Gulf states. Saddam’s continued aggression towards Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries led to the U.S. assembling a coalition under Operation “Desert Storm.” A massive war ensued, and Saddam was utterly defeated.

The invasion of Kuwait justified the First Gulf War, but the Second Gulf War may as well be known as the biggest disaster in the modern history of U.S. foreign policy. The operation was fueled by false reports of Iraq’s nuclear ambitions. The U.S.-led coalition entered Iraq and again wiped out the Iraqi army, finally deposing Saddam in 2003. Notably, inspectors visiting the country after the invasion found no signs of weapons of mass destruction.

What ensued was a systematic dismantling of Iraqi institutions. The U.S. dissolved the Iraqi armed forces and jailed Saddam’s commanders, leaving Iraq without a sovereign army and with a host of disgruntled, experienced, minority military leaders. Many of them were radicalized in American prison camps and subsequently formed the backbone of what is known today as ISIS. The void left by the army’s dissolution enabled the formation of several Shiite paramilitary factions similar but smaller in scale to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. They signaled Iran’s entry into Iraq’s political scene after Saddam had, for decades, successfully prevented interference and unleashed a barrage of military attacks on U.S. forces, plunging Iraq into political chaos and steering it away from independence. 

But resistance has formed in Iraq. A faction of independent Iraqi politicians and religious figures have spearheaded a shift towards a more sovereign government, rejecting foreign interference or striving to attenuate it by repositioning the country as a broker between much more powerful powers.

After a series of anti-government demonstrations over corruption and Iranian influence, Mustafa Al Kadhimi replaced Adil Abdul Mahdi as Prime Minister in 2020, promising to investigate the wrongful deaths of protestors. The former government, aided by pro-Iran militias, had led a heavy-handed repression campaign that led to dozens of casualties amongst protesters. Kadhimi is known for his ties to factions of all boards of the political spectrum, projecting a very strong message of neutrality. This did not please Iran-backed militias, who see him as a threat to their influence. Indeed, Kadhimi was targeted by an explosive drone attack on his residence in the heart of Bagdad. He emerged unscathed and continued urging for retenue. Kadhimi decided not to run in the parliamentary elections, eager to conserve his image of neutrality. Meanwhile, another figurehead of Iraqi sovereignty scored a major victory in the legislative arena. 

Moqtada al-Sadr transitioned from an anti-American militia leader into the leader of Iraq’s largest parliamentary bloc. Sadr, a Shiite cleric, was born and educated in Iran but has consistently opposed Teheran’s attempts to interfere with Iraq, meaning he retains unusual neutrality in a region where powerful patronage is needed to survive in politics and making him a prime candidate to redefine Iraq. Sadr has repeatedly advocated for the withdrawal of U.S. forces while successfully fighting to diminish the role of Iran-backed militias. He is now leading talks to form a new government, and Iraq has started to find a new calling. Al Kadhimi is expected to be re-appointed by the Sadrists, a move that guarantees leadership stability rarely seen in Iraq’s recent history. Additionally, the country is hosting the first rounds of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in years. It is progressively becoming a regional broker between powers. By staying friends with everyone, while politely refusing to be stepped on, Iraq is on the road to regaining sovereignty, not through belligerent weapon wielding and autocracy, but rather through clever diplomatic maneuvering.

The West should now politely exit the Iraqi political scene. Most U.S. troops have already left the country, but America should now throw its weight behind continuing to curb Iran’s capabilities to interfere with its neighbors. These efforts should be made outside of Iraqi territory. Actions such as the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad have only fueled the Iranian propaganda machine and bolstered resistance to the positive changes happening in Iraq. Sanctions alone have proven quite effective at limiting Iran’s expansion, and the U.S. should ensure a renewed nuclear deal doesn’t give Iran too much breathing room to continue its expansionism.  

Iraq is leaving behind its status as a proxy battlefield and setting an example for countries similarly submerged by Iranian belligerence. The Middle East stands to witness comprehensive changes in its balance of power: Iraq’s renewed independence could be the first step in a transition away from a Cold-War-type standoff between Iran and Saudi Arabia to a much more diverse political landscape. Iraq may now prove that neutrality is still a viable option in an otherwise increasingly polarized world.

The British Horn must ‘dust off’ its nuclear defence plans: Daniel 7

The mushroom cloud of the first test of a hydrogen bomb , "Ivy Mike", as photographed on Enewetak, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, in 1952, by a member of the United States Air Force's Lookout Mountain 1352d Photographic Squadron
Experts say while the threat is tiny, it is one we must be prepared for CREDIT: HO/ Reuters

Britain must ‘dust off’ its nuclear defence plans, warns expert

As tensions grow between Russia and Ukraine, the threat of nuclear war is ‘closer now than at any time since the 1970s’


The growing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has put the threat of nuclear war back on disaster planners’ agenda.

While the threat remains a distant one, it is closer now than any time since the 1970s, say experts, and Whitehall’s civil contingency plans are once again coming under the spotlight. 

Russia has the greatest number of nuclear warheads in the world – nearly 4,500 compared to the United States’ 3,750. The UK is a minnow in comparison with just 225.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge and a former British Army chemical and nuclear weapons expert, believes the last few weeks have shown we are “closer to a Third World War than at any point since the 1970s” – the threat is tiny, he says, but one that we must be prepared for. 

“In the depths of the Cold War we were very prepared and there was a realisation an attack was a reality. We had hundreds of bunkers around the country. But fast forward to 2022 and a lot of the planning and infrastructure has gone into abeyance and crumbled,” he says. 

“These things are incredibly expensive to maintain so much of the infrastructure has gone,” says Mr de Bretton-Gordon. 

The Ukrainian national flag flies in the centre of Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv, some 40km from the Ukrainian-Russian border
The Ukrainian national flag flies in the centre of Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv, some 40km from the Ukrainian-Russian border CREDIT: SERGEY BOBOK /AFP

As the threat of the Cold War receded, the UK’s nuclear defence infrastructure was decommissioned: former nuclear bunkers have become museums and one in Wiltshire even ended up being used as a cannabis factory.

Underneath the Ministry of Defence on Whitehall sits Pindar, a several storeys deep complex that will house the UK’s government and military leaders in the event of a nuclear strike. 

There is also a command-and-control complex at RAF Corsham in Wiltshire as well as several others. 

“They probably need a bit of a dust off but they would be viable. I don’t have any insider information but there are probably a lot of civil servants running around at the moment making preparations,” says Mr de Bretton-Gordon. 

These chores could range from checking how many potassium iodide tablets – an antidote to radiation – the UK has in stock to going through our stockpile of protective equipment. 

For civilians, however, it is likely that we will have to fend for ourselves. In the 1970s and 1980s the government devised a public information campaign called Protect and Survive, whose nadir was a chilling pamphlet delivered to all households detailing how to prepare for armageddon: from the construction of a fall out shelter to how you would be informed of a nuclear attack to what to do with any dead bodies (wrap them in polythene). 

Russian paratroopers during a joint exercise of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus, at the Obuz-Lesnovsky firing range near the city of Baranovichi in Belarus
Russian paratroopers during a joint exercise of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus, at the Obuz-Lesnovsky firing range near the city of Baranovichi in Belarus CREDIT: Russian Defence Ministry/AFP

The campaign had a huge impact on 1980s popular culture: from Raymond Briggs’ graphic novel When the Wind Blows – turned into a film – to the BBC drama Threads, which imagined the fall out of a nuclear strike on the city of Sheffield. 

The Frankie Goes to Hollywood single, Two Tribes, featured the clipped tones of Patrick Allen, who narrated the government’s public information films. 

Today, the National Risk register lists a nuclear attack as a potential threat, alongside a chemical, biological or radiological attack, however the publicly available information on what advice should be given to the public in the event of a strike is hard to find.

It is vague, stating that plans to deal with a nuclear “incident are kept up to date and regularly tested in exercises”. It adds that national stocks of medical treatments are maintained with “arrangements in place for how these would be distributed in an emergency”. 

There are also plans “to ensure effective civil government can continue throughout and after an incident” – it claims. 

Dr Patricia Lewis, head of the international security programme at the Chatham House think tank, says the nuclear deterrent theory has “dominated defence thinking” over the last few decades. 

“It has always been assumed that nuclear weapons won’t be used because the horror of them are too great,” she said. 

This is the doctrine of “mutual assured destruction” – if two nuclear powers go to war they would annihilate each other. But this defence philosophy has always relied on both sides being led by rational human beings. 

Mr de Bretton-Gordon says: “Vladimir Putin has shown in the last few weeks he is not necessarily a rational person and Monday’s performance made that clear.”

Why Nuclear Prophecy Will Be Fulfilled: Revelation 16

A test launch of an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile takes place in Kamchatka territory, Russia, on February 19, 2022.Russian Defence Ministry / TASS / Getty Images

Russian Nuclear Exercise a Reminder That Nuclear Deterrence Isn’t Relic of Past

Feb 22nd, 2022 3 min read

Patty-Jane Geller@pj_geller

Policy Analyst, Nuclear Deterrence and Missile Defense

Patty-Jane is the policy analyst for nuclear deterrence and missile defense at The Heritage Foundation.


Nuclear weapons are an unfortunate reality of today’s unsettled world.

Russia is developing completely new “super” weapons, such as a nuclear-powered cruise missile and nuclear-tipped hypersonic weapons.

As much as U.S. policymakers would like to wish away nuclear weapons from existence, unfortunately, the enemy gets a vote.

Moscow announced Friday it would begin massive nuclear drills over the weekend that will entail practice launches of its intercontinental ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

While it’s not out of the ordinary for a nuclear power to rehearse its nuclear forces, this is no ordinary exercise. It comes at a time when Russia has more than 150,000 troops amassed around the Ukrainian border and appears poised to invade at any time.

This isn’t to say that Russia will launch a nuclear first strike at Ukraine or elsewhere. But it does serve to remind us that nuclear weapons are an unfortunate reality of today’s unsettled world.

Many Americans prefer to view nuclear conflict as a relic of the Cold War. Some groups advocate for dismantling our nuclear forces. Last month, the White House boasted of a statement it signed with Russia, China, Great Britain, and France affirming that nuclear war can never be won and, therefore, should never be fought.

Yet, Russia’s actions make it clear that Moscow does not share that view.

Russia maintains a stockpile of more than 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons that it incorporates into its warfighting strategy. Under its “escalate to win” doctrine, Moscow seems to mistakenly think it can employ low-yield nuclear weapons to compel NATO to back down in a conflict.

Russia is also developing completely new “super” weapons, such as a nuclear-powered cruise missile and nuclear-tipped hypersonic weapons.

As part of its force buildup around Ukraine, Russia deployed its Kinzhal nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles to the Kaliningrad enclave that borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a subtle nuclear threat by reminding the West that should Ukraine join the NATO alliance, “Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers and is superior to many of those countries in terms of the number of modern nuclear force components.”

Now, Putin is personally overseeing a major nuclear drill as tensions ramp up over Ukraine.

Since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, there’s no obligation for NATO states to come to Ukraine’s defense should Russia invade. But many analysts have surmised that if Russia perceives itself to be successful in Ukraine, a Baltic state that is a NATO member could be next. Or, fighting in Ukraine could spill over into neighboring NATO states, dragging them into the conflict.

Putin’s blatant willingness to flex his nuclear muscle over conflict in Ukraine comes as a warning as to what could happen in a greater conflict with NATO.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, President Joe Biden has expressed his wish to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. strategy. Members of the far-left side of his party are pushing him to cancel the replacement program for our ICBMs that are more than 50 years old. And as part of its upcoming nuclear posture review, the Biden administration is reportedly contemplating cutting nuclear capabilities that are critical for deterring Russian nuclear aggression.

One such weapon is a low-yield, nuclear cruise missile that would be launched from attack submarines. That capability could be deployed to the European theater to show Russia that any use of its many tactical nuclear weapons will be met with a proportional response.

Cutting nuclear weapons at a time when Russia is backstopping its conventional aggression with the threat of nuclear force would signal to Russia that the U.S. is not serious about nuclear deterrence. It could also send the message to our allies that the United States might waffle over its extended deterrence commitments.

For nuclear deterrence to be credible, the United States must communicate its resolve to use nuclear weapons if necessary. Committing to reducing the role of nuclear weapons would do just the opposite, especially as Russia emphasizes nuclear weapons in its own strategy.

As much as U.S. policymakers would like to wish away nuclear weapons from existence, unfortunately, the enemy gets a vote.

Why All the Horns are Going Nuclear: Daniel

Why Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons — and what that means in an invasion by Russia

February 21, 20225:16 PM ET


Ukrainian Military Forces servicemen walk past a metal plate that reads “caution mines” on the front line with Russia-backed separatists.

Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

Three decades ago, the newly independent country of Ukraine was briefly the third-largest nuclear power in the world.

Thousands of nuclear arms had been left on Ukrainian soil by Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But in the years that followed, Ukraine made the decision to completely denuclearize.

In exchange, the U.S., the U.K. and Russia would guarantee Ukraine’s security in a 1994 agreement known as the Budapest Memorandum.

Now, that agreement is front and center again.

Mariana Budjeryn of Harvard University spoke with All Things Considered about the legacy of the Budapest Memorandum and its impact today.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview highlights

On whether Ukraine foresaw the impact of denuclearizing

It is hard to estimate whether Ukrainians would foresee the impact.

It is clear that Ukrainians knew they weren’t getting the exactly legally binding, really robust security guarantees they sought.

But they were told at the time that the United States and Western powers — so certainly at least the United States and Great Britain — take their political commitments really seriously. This is a document signed at the highest level by the heads of state. So the implication was Ukraine would not be left to stand alone and face a threat should it come under one.

And I think perhaps there was even a certain sense of complacency on the Ukrainian part after signing this agreement to say, “Look, we have these guarantees that were signed,” because incidentally, into Ukrainian and Russian, this was translated as a guarantee, not as an assurance.

So they had this faith that the West would stand by them, or certainly the United States, the signatories, and Great Britain, would stand up for Ukraine should it come under threat. Although, the precise way was not really proscribed in the memorandum.

On whether Russia has respected the memorandum

Russia just glibly violated it.

And there’s a mechanism of consultations that is provided for in the memorandum should any issues arise, and it was mobilized for the first time on March 4, 2014.

So there was a meeting of the signatories of the memorandum that was called by Ukraine and it did take place in Paris. And the foreign minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, who was in Paris at the time, simply did not show up. So he wouldn’t even come to the meeting in connection with the memorandum.

[Russia argues that it] signed it with a different government, not with this “illegitimate” one. But that, of course, does not stand to any international legal kind of criteria. You don’t sign agreements with the government, you sign it with the country.

On whether Ukrainians regret nuclear disarmament

Some Ukrainians regret that Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, but Mariana Budjeryn says the country made the right decision at the time.

STR/AFP via Getty Images

There certainly is a good measure of regret, and some of it is poorly informed. It would have cost Ukraine quite a bit, both economically and in terms of international political repercussions, to hold on to these arms. So it would not have been an easy decision.

But in public sphere these more simple narratives take hold. The narrative in Ukraine, publicly is: We had the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal, we gave it up for this signed piece of paper, and look what happened.

And it really doesn’t look good for the international non-proliferation regime. Because if you have a country that disarms and then becomes a target of such a threat and a victim of such a threat at the hands of a nuclear-armed country, it just sends a really wrong signal to other countries that might want to pursue nuclear weapons.

On the importance of Ukraine’s nuclear history today

I would say, after having researched this topic for nearly a decade, Ukraine did the right thing at the time. It did the right thing by itself, and also by the international community. It reduced the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world and that makes everyone safer.

Now, looking at this history, however, the guarantors — the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum especially but also the international community more broadly — needs to react in the way as to not make Ukraine doubt in the rightness of that decision.

This show of solidarity that we’ve recently seen, in this last kind of spur of tensions, goes a really long way to convince both Ukrainian leadership but also the public that even though we gave up these nuclear weapons, or nuclear option, the world still stands by us. And we will not face this aggression alone.