Don’t Forget About the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Don’t forget about earthquakes, feds tell city

Although New York’s modern skyscrapers are less likely to be damaged in an earthquake than shorter structures, a new study suggests the East Coast is more vulnerable than previously thought. The new findings will help alter building codes.

By Mark Fahey

July 18, 2014 10:03 a.m.

The 2014 maps were created with input from hundreds of experts from across the country and are based on much stronger data than the 2008 maps, said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. The bottom line for the nation’s largest city is that the area is at a slightly lower risk for the types of slow-shaking earthquakes that are especially damaging to tall spires of which New York has more than most places, but the city is still at high risk due to its population density and aging structures, said Mr. Petersen.

“Many of the overall patterns are the same in this map as in previous maps,” said Mr. Petersen. “There are large uncertainties in seismic hazards in the eastern United States. [New York City] has a lot of exposure and some vulnerability, but people forget about earthquakes because you don’t see damage from ground shaking happening very often.”

Just because they’re infrequent doesn’t mean that large and potentially disastrous earthquakes can’t occur in the area. The new maps put the largest expected magnitude at 8, significantly higher than the 2008 peak of 7.7 on a logarithmic scale.The scientific understanding of East Coast earthquakes has expanded in recent years thanks to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia in 2011 that was felt by tens of millions of people across the eastern U.S. New data compiled by the nuclear power industry has also helped experts understand quakes.

Oddly enough, it’s not the modern tall towers that are most at risk. Those buildings become like inverted pendulums in the high frequency shakes that are more common on the East Coast than in the West. But the city’s old eight- and 10-story masonry structures could suffer in a large quake, said Mr. Lerner-Lam. Engineers use maps like those released on Thursday to evaluate the minimum structural requirements at building sites, he said. The risk of an earthquake has to be determined over the building’s life span, not year-to-year.

“If a structure is going to exist for 100 years, frankly, it’s more than likely it’s going to see an earthquake over that time,” said Mr. Lerner-Lam. “You have to design for that event.”

The new USGS maps will feed into the city’s building-code review process, said a spokesman for the New York City Department of Buildings. Design provisions based on the maps are incorporated into a standard by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which is then adopted by the International Building Code and local jurisdictions like New York City. New York’s current provisions are based on the 2010 standards, but a new edition based on the just-released 2014 maps is due around 2016, he said.

“The standards for seismic safety in building codes are directly based upon USGS assessments of potential ground shaking from earthquakes, and have been for years,” said Jim Harris, a member and former chair of the Provisions Update Committee of the Building Seismic Safety Council, in a statement.

The seismic hazard model also feeds into risk assessment and insurance policies, according to Nilesh Shome, senior director of Risk Management Solutions, the largest insurance modeler in the industry. The new maps will help the insurance industry as a whole price earthquake insurance and manage catastrophic risk, said Mr. Shome. The industry collects more than $2.5 billion in premiums for earthquake insurance each year and underwrites more than $10 trillion in building risk, he said.

“People forget about history, that earthquakes have occurred in these regions in the past, and that they will occur in the future,” said Mr. Petersen. “They don’t occur very often, but the consequences and the costs can be high.”

Russia’s Terrifying Nuclear Weapons (Revelation 16)

‘Dead Hand’: Russia’s Nuclear Weapon System with 1 Terrifying Feature

October 23, 2019, 7:52 AM UTC

Key point: Russia is ready to counter U.S. nuclear missile deployments.

Russia has a knack for developing weapons that—at least on paper—are terrifying: nuclear-powered cruise missiles, robot subs with 100-megaton warheads.

Perhaps the most terrifying was a Cold War doomsday system that would automatically launch missiles—without the need for a human to push the button—during a nuclear attack.

But the system, known as “Perimeter” or “Dead Hand,” may be back and deadlier than ever.

This comes after the Trump administration announced that the United States is withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated the once-massive American and Russian stockpiles of short- and medium-range missiles. Donald Trump alleges that Russia has violated the treaty by developing and deploying new, prohibited cruise missiles.

This has left Moscow furious and fearful that America will once again, as it did during the Cold War, deploy nuclear missiles in Europe. Because of geographic fate, Russia needs ICBMs launched from Russian soil, or launched from submarines, to strike the continental United States. But shorter-range U.S. missiles based in, say, Germany or Poland could reach the Russian heartland.

Viktor Yesin, who commanded Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces in the 1990s, spoke of Perimeter/Dead Hand during an interview last month in the Russian newspaper Zvezda [Google English translation here]. Yesin said that if the United States starts deploying intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will consider adopting a doctrine of a preemptive nuclear strike. But he also added this:

Zvezda: “Will we have time to answer if the flight time is reduced to two to three minutes when deploying medium-range missiles near our borders? In this version, all hope is only on Perimeter. And for a retaliatory strike. Or was Perimeter also disassembled for parts?

Yesin: “The Perimeter system is functioning, it has even been improved. But when it works, we will have little left – we can only launch those missiles that will survive after the first attack of the aggressor.”

It is not clear what Yesin meant when he said the system has been “improved,” or even exactly what he meant by “functioning.” Perimeter works by launching specially modified SS-17 ICBMs, which transmit a launch signal to regular nuclear-tipped ICBMs in their silos.

David Hoffman, author of “The Dead Hand,” the definitive book on Perimeter, describes Perimeter in this way:

“Higher authority” would flip the switch if they feared they were under nuclear attack. This was to give the “permission sanction.” Duty officers would rush to their deep underground bunkers, the hardened concrete globes, the shariki. If the permission sanction were given ahead of time, if there were seismic evidence of nuclear strikes hitting the ground, and if all communications were lost, then the duty officers in the bunker could launch the command rockets. If so ordered, the command rockets would zoom across the country, broadcasting the signal “launch” to the intercontinental ballistic missiles. The big missiles would then fly and carry out their retaliatory mission.

There have been cryptic clues over the years that Perimeter still exists. Which illustrates one of the curiosities of this system, which is that the Soviet Union kept its existence secret from the American enemy whom it was supposed to deter.

What is unmistakable is that Perimeter is a fear-based solution. Fear of a U.S. first-strike that would decapitate the Russian leadership before it could give the order to retaliate. Fear that a Russian leader might lose his nerve and not give the order.

And if Russia is now discussing Perimeter publicly, that’s reason for the rest of us to worry.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This article first appeared last year.

Image: Reuters.

Iraq PM makes last ditch reforms to halt the Antichrist

Iraq PM makes last ditch reforms to halt further protests

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi unveiled yet more reforms on Wednesday in a last ditch attempt to prevent nationwide protests against the government resuming on Friday. 

October began with an explosion of street protests against corruption, unemployment, and a lack of basic services. The thousands of mostly young men aged 15 to 25 who came out onto the streets of Baghdad and other cities were met with violent repression. 

At least 157 people were killed and 5,494 injured in the wave of unrest, according to a report published by the Human Rights Office of the United Nationals Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) on Tuesday. 

Protests are due to resume on Friday after a brief hiatus during the Shiite religious observance of Arbaeen. Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has withdrawn his support for the government and called on his supporters to return to the streets.

Abdul-Mahdi announced the new set of  measures via Facebook on Wednesday aimed at reducing the salaries of top officials, reforming the ministries, providing incomes to poor  families, and offering fresh opportunities for young people.

“We will start to make real reforms within the ministries in the next parliament session,” the statement reads. “The reforms within the ministries will be free of quotas and there will be more space for the youth [for government jobs].”

There are fears Friday’s protests could see a resumption of the violence seen earlier in the month. Security forces and armed militias used live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas, and sniper rounds to disperse the crowds. 

Curfews were also imposed on city centers and internet services cut across the country’s south.

Abdul-Mahdi’s statement again focused on fighting corruption, pledging to establish a central anti-corruption court – a place for “corrupted officials to face justice”.

“We will reveal the corruption cases for the public with full transparency,” the statement added.

Since taking power in October 2018, Abdul-Mahdi has said his government’s priority is to clamp down on corruption. Critics say he has moved too slowly, however, and he is under mounting pressure to deliver tangible results and not just a few token scalps.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also promised to fight corruption and to stand up to corrupted officials, but failed to solve the problem during his tenure.  

Abdul-Mahdi may believe he can take the sting out of the tail of the protesters by announcing a reduction in his salary and expenses and those of the president, parliamentary speaker, and other top officials.

“Cutting the salaries of the three presidents, ministers, member of parliaments, deputy ministers to half of its current figure” is among the new measures, the statement said. “The salary of the highest position in the country will not exceed 10 million IQD ($8,407 per month).”

The same step was also taken by former PM Abadi in 2015 when the price of oil collapsed.  

Abdul-Mahdi also clarified that the US troops which recently crossed into Iraqi territory after withdrawing from northern Syria “do not have the permission of Baghdad to stay inside Iraq”.

Joint Operation Command released a statement on Tuesday claiming the US troops had the permission of the Iraqi government to enter the Kurdistan Region, but only as a transiting point – not the “green light” to stay inside Iraq.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday. Under the current plan, all US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the military would continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) to prevent its resurgence. 

He later added that the troops would be there temporarily until they are able to go home, but no time frame has been set.

Preparing to Damage the Wine (Revelation 6:6)

For the US and Israel, a strike against Iran seems inevitable

By Seth Cropsey, opinion contributor

October 22, 2019 – 10:30 AM EDT

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based militant organization, have tacitly upheld a tense truce since 2006. Israel has refrained from significant strikes in Lebanon; Hezbollah has decreased its harassment on the Israel-Lebanon border and not initiated rocket barrages against Israel.

Any renewed conflict carries risks for both.

Even with Israel’s anti-missile Iron Dome negating the economic damage of a confrontation, a large-scale ground campaign would exact a price in blood. In 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fear of public backlash against high casualties influenced tactical and operational choices in Gaza. Today, similar anxieties are certain to apply.

Hezbollah, on the other hand, has emerged victorious but bloodied from eight years of civil war in Syria. It recruited fighters in southern Syria, constructed new missile factories and received fresh supplies, but an immediate war still would be costly. Moreover, Israel’s Iron Dome modifies the strategic balance.

Nevertheless, war will come — if not now, then soon. Hezbollah’s bloody pact with Iran demands it. Indeed, one must look east to find the real source of tension on Israel’s northern border.

The Iranian regime blends Persian imperial haughtiness with Shia supremacism. Like Cyrus the Great, the first Persian emperor who held the title of “King of the Four Corners of the Earth,” Tehran’s theocrats intend to seize leadership of today’s Islamic world.

But Iran’s quest for Near Eastern and Islamic primacy requires accomplishing multiple objectives. It must defeat the Saudi-aligned Gulf monarchies, undermine the Hashemites in Jordan, and confront or co-opt a similarly neo-imperial Turkey, all while avoiding a fall from Russia’s good graces.

America and Israel, the “Great” and “Little” Satans, are Iran’s greatest adversaries. Understanding the threat each poses requires examining Iran’s gains over three decades.

Iran spent the 1990s expanding its nuclear infrastructure. It turned post-2003 Iraqi factionalism to its advantage, sponsoring Shia militias that killed American soldiers; when the Iraqi army dissolved during ISIS’s June 2014 offensive, those militias became integral to Iraq’s survival. Iran has now infected Iraq’s political and military infrastructure, with the Shia militias becoming Iraq’s version of Iran’s Republican Guard.

Iran also has transformed Syria from a strategic ally to a virtual proxy; Syrian President Bashar al-Assad owes his life to Hezbollah and to the Quds Force, Iran’s special operations forces. Russian airpower decisively tipped the scales in Assad’s favor, but Iranian intervention during the first four years of war ensured his survival.

Iran has now created a land corridor from Kermanshah to Latakia and Beirut, linking Tehran to the eastern Mediterranean. It is no coincidence that Iran solidified these gains between 2015 and 2017, when the JCPOA nuclear deal gave it greater economic and political flexibility. Today, Iran pairs its overland highway to the Levantine Basin with its Yemenite foothold, provided by Houthi insurgents. All the while, its nuclear program remains untouched, and ballistic missile development continues apace.

Iran’s most recent attack on Saudi oil production demonstrates the sophistication and extent of Iranian capabilities. Iran used Ababil 2 drones and Quds-1 cruise missiles to execute the attack. Neither weapon has the needed precision when controlled from a distance, so it is likely that Iranian intelligence infiltrated Saudi Arabia and guided the weapons in their terminal phase. This constitutes one of the great U.S. intelligence failures since 9/11 — a U.S. ally’s oil production crippled due to large-scale sabotage by a hostile power.

Strategically, only America and Israel can check Iranian ambitions. The U.S. maintains a network of Middle Eastern and European bases from which it can concentrate ground and air forces against any point in the region; a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf or Eastern Mediterranean greatly complicates Iran’s ability to operate freely in Syria and Iraq, or to close the Strait of Hormuz and pressure U.S. allies in Asia. Moreover, U.S. diplomatic, financial and commercial pressure can still strangle the Iranian economy, despite the damage the JCPOA and its aftermath did to the U.S. sanctions regime. Unless Iran can eliminate U.S. presence in the Middle East, its broader campaign will remain constricted.

While American military and economic power consistently shackle Iranian ambitions, Israel’s military capabilities pose the most credible threat to Iran’s strategic gains on the ground. Israel operates the region’s most sophisticated military force. Its fleet of F-15s and F-16s could achieve air parity even with Russian forces, let alone Iran’s.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is known for its operational creativity, so Iran must expect an unpredictable response to every one of its defensive redundancies. Israel couples its conventional capabilities with a world-class intelligence service that has already penetrated Iranian defenses, neutralized Iranian nuclear scientists, obtained sensitive information on its nuclear program and potentially engineered the Stuxnet virus that targeted Iranian centrifuges.

Israel’s probable nuclear capabilities make it the greater strategic threat. Even with weapons of mass destruction, Iran cannot simply blackmail Israel to achieve its goals. Critically, Israel is willing to use these capabilities to counter Iranian expansion; it has conducted airstrikes against Iranian targets in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq — the latter with Russian consent — and used force twice to eliminate hostile nuclear programs. So long as Israel exists, Iranian ambitions cannot be fulfilled.

One must also identify an ideological element to Iran’s strategy. Anti-Semitism is central to Iran’s identity; its founding Khomeinist ideology identified the Jews as blasphemers who defiled the Quran. Iran’s pretension to Islamic leadership rings hollow because Islam’s three holiest cities — Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem — all lie in its enemies’ hands: The Saudis control the first two; Israel, the third.

These facts explain the link between Hezbollah and the nuclear program, the two pillars of Iranian strategy. Iran hopes to use Hezbollah to occupy Israel’s and America’s attention, particularly drawing the former’s resources into prolonged ground wars. Hezbollah, like Iranian-sponsored Hamas, is a threat Israel cannot ignore. By placing Israel on the defensive, Iran gains a free hand to consolidate its control over Syria and Iraq, and to pressure America and its Arab allies.

Most important, it can expand its nuclear infrastructure and perfect its delivery systems. Iran need not sprint for breakout immediately. It would rather cultivate its regional position using irregular capabilities and proxies, while avoiding direct confrontation with the United States and Israel for as long as possible.

The ultimate goal will be a nuclear attack against Israel. Unable to conventionally destroy the Jewish state, Iran can instead obliterate Israel’s coastal population centers. Israel’s subsequent counterattack is unlikely to deter Iran — not, however, because Iran is “irrational.” The Islamic Republic lost 2 percent of its population in the Iran-Iraq War; equivalent losses today would total more than 16 million dead — an amount that would require eliminating Iran’s five largest cities. There are, it seems, situations in which Iran would “think about the unthinkable.”

Given this possibility, Israel and America ought to modify their understanding of Hezbollah: It is not a primary threat but the means to a broader end.

The next conflict with Hezbollah presents three broad options. First, strike Hezbollah in Lebanon. This will entail a large Israeli ground commitment and has no guarantee of success. The long-term benefits of anything less than total victory are not readily apparent.

Second, strike Iran’s positions in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, ripping out the infrastructure Tehran has constructed over the past decade. This will take greater coordination and military capacity — the IDF will need to conduct a broad, multi-phase campaign primarily in the air against Iranian, and likely Syrian and Lebanese, targets. Israel must judge whether Russia will permit such actions, and gauge the costs and benefits accordingly. Nevertheless, while option two provides benefits, it only buys Israel time.

The third option, striking Iran directly and crippling its nuclear program, is the most ambitious, most risky and most rewarding. If successful, it could ensure Israeli security for 10 to 20 years. But it would be a massive logistical undertaking, which may be beyond the IDF’s capacity. Political considerations must be weighed — the role of America and the Sunni Arab monarchies, and Russia’s likely hostile response. Moreover, Israel’s government remains in flux; it may face the dismaying prospect of going to war without a prime minister.

Regardless of the option chosen, Israel and America must recognize that option three, a direct strike against Iran, will become necessary. History contains many examples of powers that knew the stakes of a confrontation yet refused to strike early. Athens and Sparta hoped to stave off war as long as possible. Sparta required unquestionable primacy, Athens an equal position to Sparta’s. Each demanded what the other could not give.

Seth Cropsey is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and director of its Center for American Seapower. He served as a naval officer and as deputy Undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Harry Halem, a research assistant at Hudson Institute, contributed to this column.

The Nations Torture Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza on 15 April 2016

October 22, 2019 at 10:30 am

Foreign agents torturing Palestinian prisoners in Saudi jails

Palestinian prisoners inside Saudi jails are being interrogated and tortured by foreign agents, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said yesterday.

Speaking to the Shehab News Agency, Abu Zuhri said: “Sadly, the prisoners are being interrogated and severely tortured by foreign interrogators of different nationalities.”

“There are about 60 Palestinian prisoners inside the Saudi jails, including some pro-Hamas or Hamas members,” Abu Zuhri said, noting that some of them have spent more than three decades in Saudi Arabia and contributed to building the country.

“Their detention shocked us and them because it is not justified and not understood.”

Abu Zuhri said that his movement has exerted many efforts, including contacting Saudi and none-Saudi officials through direct and indirect means but has been unable to arrange the release of the prisoners.

He stressed that his movement has not given up working to end the crisis, stating “this is not justified because Saudi has been and is still a supporter of the Palestinians and their cause.”

Last month, rights groups and Hamas revealed that Saudi Arabia has arrested around 60 Palestinians over claims of links to the Palestinian resistance movement, stating that they had disappeared for months without their families knowing anything about their whereabouts. The NGO Euro-Med Observer reported one of the freed detainees as saying that he and the others were subject to verbal and physical torture.

Hamas also revealed that its main official in the kingdom, Mohammed Al-Khodari, 81, has also been arrested.

Pakistan Again Threatens Nuclear War

Pakistan minister gives nuclear threat after Indian Army hits Pak army posts, terror launch pads across PoK

In heavy retaliation to Pakistani attempts to infiltrate terrorists into India, Pakistan Army posts and gun positions giving protection to the terror launch pads were hit by the Indian Army in Tangdhar sector in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) across the Line of Control (LoC).
At least three terror launch pads in Jura, Athmuqam and Kundalsahi in PoK were targeted and destroyed by the Indian Army, sources said. Five Pakistani Army personnel were killed in the retaliatory firing by the Indian Army.

October 22, 2019

America is Such a Turkey

Incirlik Air Base, in the outskirts of the city of Adana, Turkey, is home to 50 B61 nuclear bombs.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Why Does the U.S. Have Nukes in Turkey, Anyway?

The tangled Cold War history has made the crisis in Turkey much more dangerous.

Fred KaplanOct 22, 20195:21 PM

Senior officials are reportedly discussing whether and how to remove U.S. nuclear weapons from the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, which raises two questions: Why did we put nukes in Turkey in the first place, and why—almost 30 years after the end of the Cold War—are they still there?

The weapons—50 of them, all B61 nuclear bombs, which can be dropped from F-16 and Tornado jet fighters—are among the Cold War’s hoariest relics. (Another 130 of these bombs are stored at NATO bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.)

At the start of the Cold War, the United States and its NATO allies lacked sufficient troops and armor to stave off a Soviet invasion of Western Europe—a prospect that many generals and intelligence analysts at the time considered possible, if not imminent. So they relied instead on the threat of nuclear weapons, both to deter the Soviets from invading and to defeat them on the battlefield if necessary.

This trend began before the Soviet Union had any of its own nuclear bombers or missiles to speak of. Official U.S. war plans, approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Dwight Eisenhower, stated that, if so much as a single Soviet tank division crossed into allied territory, the United States would respond with nukes.

At first, very few airplanes or missiles had the range to hit Soviet targets from the United States, so the generals saturated Western Europe with “tactical nuclear weapons”—short-range atomic bombs, missiles, artillery shells, even land mines.

By 1960, the Air Force and Navy had built enough long-range bombers and missiles to launch a devastating nuclear blow from U.S. air bases and missile sites. The first multiservice nuclear war plan, developed by the Strategic Air Command, called for dropping or launching 3,423 bombs and warheads—which would explode with the force of 7,847 megatons—at 1,043 targets in the Soviet Union, its allies in Eastern Europe, and China, killing at least 275 million people who happened to live under communism (not to mention the millions more, in the free world, killed by radioactive fallout).

Again, this would be in response to a Soviet or Chinese conventional invasion of allied territory. The U.S. nuclear war plan was—and would remain, for decades to come—a first-strike­ plan.

Then the Soviets started building their own long-range nuclear arsenal. In response, some U.S. officials and strategic thinkers recommended getting rid of the nuclear weapons scattered across Western Europe: First, they were no longer necessary (we could deter a Soviet invasion with weapons based in the U.S.); second, they were vulnerable to Soviet short-range missiles—their very presence could provoke a Soviet preemptive strike.

However, a counterargument arose. Some European military officers and politicians began to wonder whether the United States really would nuke Russia in response to a conventional Soviet invasion of Western Europe, knowing that Russia could retaliate by nuking the United States. French President Charles de Gaulle posed the question this way: Would an American president risk New York to defend Paris?

And so, in the 1960s, Presidents John F. Kennedy and especially Lyndon B. Johnson were persuaded to keep tactical nukes in Western Europe, as a way of assuring the NATO allies that we would use nukes if the Soviets invaded. Meanwhile, they might also keep the allies from building their own nuclear weapons. (The ever-doubtful French built a small nuclear arsenal of their own anyway.)

Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense for Kennedy and Johnson, tried to counter Soviet troops and tanks head on, by building up NATO’s conventional defenses, but the Vietnam War diverted manpower and munitions from Western Europe. So, as the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies built up their conventional forces in Eastern Europe, NATO pressured Washington for more nukes.

By the mid-1970s, at their peak, the United States had 7,000 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe—including almost 500 in Turkey.

Turkey was a special case even then. In 1962, Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev settled the Cuban missile crisis through a secret trade (which remained secret for the next quarter-century): Khrushchev would pull the Soviet missiles out of Cuba, 90 miles off the coast of Florida—and six months later, Kennedy would pull the U.S. missiles out of Turkey, near the southern border of the USSR. The U.S. missiles—15 of them, known as Jupiters—had just been deployed earlier that year. (Eisenhower had agreed to put them there in 1959.) By the time they were dismantled, one of the first Polaris submarines—carrying 16 nuclear missiles—was stationed in the Mediterranean; Kennedy convinced the Turks that the Polaris subs, which could roam beneath the ocean’s surface, undetected, were a far more secure deterrent than the land-based Jupiters.

However, over the next decade, as tactical nukes dotted the European landscape, the Turks eventually got their share of them. And as NATO air bases hosted planes capable of carrying nuclear bombs, the Incirlik base in Southern Turkey got some of those, too.

Concerns were raised about that base in 1974, after Turkey invaded Cyprus, flaring tensions with Greece. In response, the United States removed its nuclear weapons from Greece and put tighter locks on those in Turkey. No alarms were stirred about the security of the other nuclear bases in Europe.

In 1987, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned all U.S. and Soviet missiles with a range of 500 to 5,000 kilometers—resulting in the dismantlement of about 2,000 Soviet missiles facing Europe and 572 American missiles with the ability to strike the USSR from bases in Western Europe.

In 1991, with the implosion of the Soviet Union and the formal end of the Cold War, President George H.W. Bush unilaterally dismantled nearly all tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and South Korea—inviting Boris Yeltsin, the president of the new Russian Federation, to respond in kind (which he did, for a while). By this time, U.S. conventional defenses had greatly improved, and many military commanders viewed the tactical nukes as more of a hindrance to security than a help.

However, Bush retained the small arsenal of U.S. nuclear bombs—numbering about 180—at the handful of NATO air bases, including Incirlik. In fact, the bombs were “modernized.” The old B61 bombs had the explosive power of 1 megaton; the new ones have “dial-a-yield” options, ranging from 340 kilotons down to a fraction of a kiloton. (A kiloton has the blast power of 1,000 tons of TNT; a megaton has the blast power of 1 million tons.)

In 2010, President Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, intent on “reducing the role of nuclear weapons in national security policy,” as he put it in a high-profile speech. His NATO ambassador, Ivo Daalder, proposed cutting the number of B61s by half. No one any longer believed that these bombs had any military purpose, so the move would serve as a token of Obama’s sincerity—and perhaps inspire other nuclear powers to follow suit. However, Obama’s top security advisers quashed the idea. U.S. and Russian diplomats were negotiating an update to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was about to expire, and Hillary Clinton—Obama’s former political opponent who was now his secretary of state—argued that unilateral cuts would diminish her bargaining leverage. She and others also feared that the move would upset NATO allies, who were still reeling from George W. Bush’s eight-year reign. The fact that the bombs had little, if any, military utility bolstered the case that they were needed to cement trans-Atlantic political ties. Daalder’s proposal was rejected at an interagency meeting of the National Security Council, with little discussion.

Now, almost 10 years later, some regret the casual dismissal, as tensions with Turkey are cresting, to the point where some are talking about expelling it from NATO.

A few years ago, a U.S. security team tested the locks on the bombs at Incirlik and deemed them satisfactory. But the Turks own the base, and if they kicked the Americans out, it’s not impossible that they could break the locks and declare the bombs to be theirs.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared this week that he wants to build his own nuclear arsenal. He is not the first Turkish leader to mull such ambitions, but as his sense of power and independence has grown—fueled by a blossoming alliance with Russia and a new bout of muscle-flexing in northern Syria, stemming from Trump’s abandonment of the area—the prospect of a Turkish bomb looms as a real possibility. At this point, if the U.S. took away the 50 B61s at Incirlik, one could imagine Erdogan rushing to build or buy his own bomb, almost out of spite. John Pike, director of the research firm GlobalSecurity.org, also notes that if Saudi Arabia or Iran were to go nuclear in the coming years, Turkey would certainly follow suit in short order.

For a while, nuclear weapons really did seem to be losing their potency as totems of strength. Now they’re coming back, and the big powers—which once kept a lid on smaller countries’ nuclear dreams, through the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other diplomatic stratagems—have lost the leverage and the inclination to do much about it. Trump is the prime culprit here, with his scuttling of the Iran nuclear deal, his inattention to the approaching expiration of the U.S.-Russian New START treaty, and his blundering back-and-forth with Erdogan, kowtowing to the Turkish leader’s expansionism in one breath, then threatening him with sanctions and war in the next.

The nuclear weapons should have been removed from Turkey long ago. Now, whether they’re taken out or kept in, they are going to play some kind of role in the escalating tensions.