Dangerous Moments: An Updating Context for the Present Threat of Deliberate or Accidental Nuclear Catastrophe

This is going to be an updating summary to the context and contours of the global nuclear threat, specifically in the context of the US, which many — to be detailed below — view as the most dangerous country during the most dangerous time in human history.  The reasoning for this focus is threefold: 1) I live in the US and therefore am most responsible for what the US does; 2) The US is the only country that’s ever used nuclear weapons in war; and 3) We are the most openly belligerent and capable country on Earth in regards to nuclear weapons. That’s a massive claim, but upon inspection, it is terrifyingly accurate. Unfortunately, narratives detailing this are often hijacked by powerful individuals and organizations from across the world’s political spectrum to massage details or outright fabricate claims. This meager blog post will seek to neutralize those manipulated or fabricated narratives so as to create a clear understanding of how we arrived, and therefore how we depart from, this dangerous moment in human history.

Here’s the NukeMap to get started on visualizing how serious this scenario is, and note that US missile tests relevant to the current nuclear scenario that occurred prior to 2017 will not be listed because they are simply too frequent to merit individual acknowledgement.


 


07/07/1989: Gorbachev’s “vision of a ‘common European home’ stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals” (The New York Times)

10/20/99: “US Secretly Deployed Nuclear Bombs in 27 Countries and Territories During the Cold War” (The National Security Archive)

12/13/01: “Bush Pulls Out of Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; Putin Calls Move a Mistake” (The New York Times)

05/29/02: “NATO Formally Welcomes Russia as a Partner” (The New York Times)

06/28/08: “Dick Cheney ‘tried to block North Korea nuclear deal’” (The Telegraph)

11/01/09: “Medvedev: Russia Wants NATO Partnership But Criticizes Expansion” (Voice of America)

04/08/10: “US and Russia agree to destroy thousands of nuclear weapons” (The Telegraph)

11/25/10: “‘From Lisbon to Vladivostok’: Putin Envisions a Russia-EU Free Trade Zone” (Der Spiegel)

03/01/12: “The 3 A.M. Phone Call: False Warnings of Soviet Missile Attacks during 1979-80 Led to Alert Actions for U.S. Strategic Forces” (The National Security Archive)

10/15/12: “Noam Chomsky: ‘The Most Dangerous Moment,’ 50 Years Later” (TomDispatch)

04/18/13: “North Korea: Sanctions, U.S. military drills must end for talks to resume” (The Guardian)

06/10/13: “22 ‘pointless’ US nuclear bombs at Dutch airbase” (The Telegraph)

10/07/13: “Every Nuclear-Tipped Missile is an ‘Accident Waiting to Happen’” (The National Security Archive)

10/09/13: “The Department of Defense List of 32 ‘Accidents Involving Nuclear Weapons’” (The National Security Archive)

12/10/13: “Nuclear Famine: climate effects of regional nuclear war” (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War)

01/17/14: “Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove Was True” (The New Yorker)

06/09/14: “New Details on the 1961 Goldsboro Nuclear Accident” (The National Security Archive)

08/05/14: “Noam Chomsky: It Is a Wonder We Are Still Alive” (The Nation)

09/21/14: “U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms” (The New York Times)

03/09/15: “Nuns and Nuclear Security” (The New Yorker)

05/29/15: “New Book Discloses Top Secret Consideration by Nixon White House of Nuclear Options against North Vietnam in September 1969” (The National Security Archive)

10/20/15: “20 Mishaps That Might Have Started Accidental Nuclear War” (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation)

10/24/15: “The 1983 War Scare Declassified and For Real” (The National Security Archive)

12/22/15: “U.S. Cold War Nuclear Target Lists Declassified for First Time” (The National Security Archive)

01/07/16: “Nuclear weapons risk greater than in cold war, says ex-Pentagon chief” (The Guardian)

01/11/16: “As U.S. Modernizes Nuclear Weapons, ‘Smaller’ [read: ‘More Usable’] Leaves Some Uneasy” (The New York Times)

03/29/16: “Belgium’s Failed State Is Guarding America’s Nuclear Weapons” (Foreign Policy)

04/24/16: “Stop war drills and we’ll stop nuclear tests, North Korea tells US after missile launch” (The Guardian)

07/17/16: “The [50] H-Bombs in Turkey” (The New Yorker)

07/22/16: “Bikini A-Bomb Tests July 1946: Underwater Atomic Blast Contaminated Test Ships Making Them ‘Radioactive Stoves’” (The National Security Archive)

08/05/16: “Our Nuclear Procedures Are Crazier Than Trump” (Foreign Policy)

08/13/16: “USA wants more modern nuclear bombs in Germany: report” (Deutsche Welle)

12/01/16: “Stephen Hawking: This is the most dangerous time for our planet” (The Guardian)

12/06/16: “Détente Now: A New Call for Peace, Security, and Cooperation” (The Nation)

12/23/16: “World War Three, By Mistake” (The New Yorker)

12/23/16: “Trump tweets about nuclear weapons, raising questions and fears” (Reuters)

01/11/17: “In Its Nuclear Race With India, Pakistan Catches Up” (Strategic Forecasting)

01/20/17: “William Perry: The Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe Is Greater Today Than During the Cold War” (The Huffington Post)

01/26/17: “Nuclear ‘Doomsday Clock’ ticks closest to midnight in 64 years” (Reuters)

01/27/17: “Mikhail Gorbachev says ‘it looks like the world is preparing for war’

02/06/17: “The fierce urgency of nuclear zero” (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation)

02/15/17: “Top Air Force Official Told JCS in 1971: ‘We Could Lose Two Hundred Million People [in a Nuclear War] and Still Have More Than We Had at the Time of the Civil War’” (The National Security Archive)

02/26/17: “U.S. test-fires ICBMs to stress its power to Russia, North Korea” (Reuters)

03/01/17: “How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze” (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)

03/27/17: “U.S., Britain, France, others skip nuclear weapons ban treaty talks” (Reuters)

04/13/17: “NNSA, Air Force complete first B61-12 [gravity bomb] Life Extension Program qualification flight test at Tonopah Test Range” (US Department of Energy)

04/13/17: “Stephen Cohen: This is Most Dangerous Moment in U.S.-Russian Relations Since Cuban Missile Crisis” (Democracy Now!)

04/24/17: “Noam Chomsky: US Is the ‘Most Dangerous Country in the World’” (Truthout)

04/25/17: “Command and Control: A Documentary” (PBS)

04/25/17: “William Perry: ‘Have we forgotten the Cold War? Nuclear threat more real than ever.’” (The Hill)

04/25/17: “Noam Chomsky: The Republican Party Is the ‘Most Dangerous Organization in World History’” (Alternet)

04/26/17: “US test-fires ICBM traveling 4,000 miles to South Pacific” (Fox News)

05/03/17: “Malmstrom tests Minuteman III missile with [4,000-mile] launch from Vandenberg” (US Air Force)

05/04/17: “Half a million people sign petition to take away Donald Trump’s ability to launch nuclear weapons” (The Independent)

05/25/17: “U.S. Nuclear Regulators Greatly Underestimate Potential for Nuclear Disaster” (Princeton University)

06/07/17: “Gorbachev: Russia, US Should Restore Nuclear Arms Control System” (Sputnik)

07/03/17: “Haves, have-nots, and need-nots: The nuclear ban exposes hidden fault lines” (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)

07/04/17: “US cities are not medically prepared for a nuclear detonation” (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)

07/07/17: “Nuclear powers rebuked as 122 nations adopt U.N. ban” (Politico)

07/14/17: “The nuclear weapons ban treaty (not) in the news?” (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)

10/17/17: “Russia Destroys Chemical Weapons, and Faults U.S. for Not Doing So


Resources:

Arms Control Association

Beyond Nuclear

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

CodePink

Doomsday Dashboard | Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Federation of American Scientists

Friends of the Earth

Global Zero

Greenpeace

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

National Security Archive’s Nuclear Vault

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Nuclear Threat Initiative

NukeMap

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Ploughshares

Union of Concerned Scientists

Veterans for Peace

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