The end of World War II spurred a Cold War between the United States and the then-Soviet Union that began the massing of nuclear weapons so vast the superpowers could completely obliterate the entire planet five times over. People started building bomb shelters and stockpiling food, water and batteries. The popular culture sentiment during the 1960s was highlighted by Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic movie, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. At some point, folks just had to accept the world could end with the push of a button.
Recognizing the inherent futility of both countries possessing these doomsday machines, cooler heads prevailed in the late 1980s. The de-escalation resulted in America and Russia reducing their warheads from more than 70,000 to under 5,000 combined. Unfortunately, the world is not a safer place today. In fact, the threat may be greater now than when the U.S. and U.S.S.R squared off during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The proliferation and development of nuclear weapons by radical regimes has reached a frightening level. These are just some of the global dangers that exist today.
China as a Superpower
The Asian superpower has a covert stockpile of nukes that has been estimated to be between 100 and 400. Some sources have it pegged at 240, but they keep the program as a national secret. China is clearly one of the more aggressive countries on the world stage. Since WWII, China has invaded parts of Vietnam, India, South Korea and Tibet. They assert a “one-nation” policy over independent Taiwan and threaten territorial expansion by erecting man-made islands. China maintains a hostile relationship with nuclear powers such India, and is a constant threat to Japan.
Israel’s Nuclear Policy
Israel is a friend to Western nations, particularly the United States since the recent 2016 election. However, the Jewish State is besieged by enemies on all sides. Terrorist-sponsoring states, such as Iran, regularly hold mass rallies with Iranians chanting “Death to Israel” and the Muslim nation paints similar threats in Hebrew on its missiles. Israel maintains a covert nuclear policy and whether they have a nuclear arsenal is unclear. The threat of a war that could escalate beyond conventional weapons is very real and perhaps imminent if Iran isn’t kept in check.
NATO and Nukes
To Americans who hear about footing 70 percent of Europe’s military defense, it may come as a surprise that several NATO countries have nukes. The United Kingdom, France and even Poland have warheads pointed at Russia. Nuclear conflict remains highly unlikely given the U.S. involvement in NATO and, frankly, the Russians rolled through the Crimea area of Ukraine unimpeded. Tanks seem to work fine for them.
North Korean H-Bomb
The U.S. government and mainstream media deem North Korea a “rogue state.” The communist dictatorship claims to have tested its first H-bomb in January of 2016 and rattles its war saber often. Scientific data related to the test conclude that it wasn’t a nuke but there’s little doubt North Korea has WMDs aimed at South Korea, which harbors a build-up of American troops and missile systems. Considering China backs North Korea and America supports South Korea, it’s a powder keg waiting to explode.
Iran and the Dirty Bomb
Visions of nuclear missiles falling from the sky are a less immediate threat than Iran providing terrorists with a Dirty Bomb. After the controversial deal the Obama Administration made with Iran, the world is well aware the radical Islamic country has more than 100 metric tons of enriched uranium.
A dirty bomb, or radiological dispersal device, is a theoretic weapon designed to kill through radioactive fallout and contaminate large, possibly urban areas. By placing enriched uranium next to an explosive device, it can create a nuclear fallout on par with the Chernobyl disaster.
It wouldn’t cost Iran a dime to provide Islamic extremist with the materials given to them by President Obama. Any terror group could hide a dirty bomb in a shipping container and detonate in a U.S. port. The dirty bomb may be the greatest nuclear-related threat of our age.
While the stockpile of nuclear warheads has been greatly reduced, the threat of nuclear weapons is greater now than at any other time. Maybe this R.E.M. song reflects today’s attitudes about self-annihilation best: “It’s the end of the world as we know, and I feel fine.”