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 Antichrist Christ makes the rivals look like fools

Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf on June 3, 2022. Photo: AFP

Sadr withdraws, hands over power to rivals on golden platter

The leader of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, surprised his allies before his rivals by asking lawmakers from his parliamentary bloc to resign and leave the political arena to his adversaries.

Many described Sadr’s move as an earthquake hitting the political process, while political pundits scurried to find an explanation to this extraordinary move and found little to answer their inquiries.

On the other hand, the rival Coordination Framework took the news as calmly as it could, but they were extremely pleased with this unexpected bounty.

At the time, his allies in Save the Homeland alliance were desperately looking for answers, while his rivals were making plans on how to make the most out of this opportunity that had fallen from the heavens to them.

The radical move raised many questions

On May 26, the Iraqi parliament passed a bill criminalizing ties with Israel which Sadr considered an important victory for his parliamentary bloc, thanking his MPs and God for the achievement in a tweet. The remarks were followed by another tweet on May 28, where he called for the controversial emergency food security bill to be passed. It was passed by a majority vote on June 8, which prompted Sadr to describe it as a victory in a similar tweet.

“Parliament’s approval of the Food Security Law is another victory for the reform axis, and it has proven to everyone the unprecedented strength of the Iraqi parliament in past years,” tweeted the Shiite cleric, demanding the formation of a parliamentary committee to follow up the implementation of the law.

One day after this Sadrist victory, he announced in a televised speech on the evening of June 9, instructing his MPs “to meet the days.”

Al-Sadr’s appearance and the content of his speech, as well as instructing his MPs to submit their resignations, constituted a great surprise among various circles.

Where is the Sadrist Movement?

Politicians and observers asked several questions, including what prompted Sadr to take this sudden decision, what are the reasons, and are there any other surprise steps coming? What is the planning for the next stage? What will he gain from this decision? Is there any plan followed by Sadr in fighting opponents? Does he have a straightforward reading of what will happen so that he pre-empts his rivals to get out of the political process before it collapses? And many other questions almost all remain unanswered, and perhaps remain so for some time to come.

The decision to withdraw, of course, has significant repercussions on the Sadrist Movement as they are transformed from a dominant and the largest parliamentary bloc to a movement outside parliament. Thus, they will lose all the political and economic privileges granted to them by hegemony and influential political presence during the past years.

Perhaps the explanation for Sadr’s move could have two sides.

The first is that the decision to withdraw is a strategic mistake that will cost him a heavy price, as his opponents will work hard to make sure they do not repeat past mistakes and give him the opportunity to return again and impose his hegemony, especially with regard to the Saraya al-Salam and the economic gains through its executive powers and the curtailment of its governmental positions.

On the second side, which is promoted by his supporters, Sadr is well aware that the current political system will not last long, and he will work through the popular movement to accelerate the overthrow of the regime and the advent of an alternative system that is more appropriate with the Iraqi reality, to the extent that some of them are indicating that Sadr may choose the presidential system instead of the parliamentary system, which failed to manage the country’s affairs during the past two decades.

Speculations have increased recently about the nature of the next steps of the movement and its leader in the coming days. Sadr confirmed his choice in a meeting in Najaf with his resigned MPs, where he thanked them for obeying his orders and asked them to stay alert and try to engage with the people and stay ready for another election if he decides to get into it. At the same time, he described the meeting as a “farewell.”

It is likely that Sadr has chosen seclusion and returned to religious studies to complete the requirements for obtaining a Hawza certificate to become a reference in the near future. Meanwhile, supporters and members of the movement go about their daily lives, waiting for the promised day for Sadr’s return to political life or his permission to move again later on.

All the speculation about demonstrations and taking to the street remains to be seen and it is unlikely to happen for the first few months and until after the government formation.

Framework and a dream to return to the fore

An informed source revealed that some of the leaders of the framework and parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi were gathered for lunch in al-Jadriya on June 9, but Sadr’s televised speech that day turned the lunch invitation into a deliberation session. None of those present knew about the decision and were mostly dismissive of its seriousness, they believed that it is yet another maneuver by Sadr.
 
The framework, at its best, was not dreaming of this sudden decision that transformed the blocking third of the parliament to the largest unchallenged bloc overnight. Sadr presented the power to his rivals on a golden platter.

The framework received the news with total coolness, and decided not to meet on the same day the Sadrist MPs resigned, June 12, instead they arranged a meeting for the next day and issued a mute statement saying they welcome Sadr’s decision while confirming their intention to move towards forming the government as a constitutional entitlement. 

A leading source in the framework stated that the meeting of the framework had been preceded by a meeting with the speaker of parliament behind the scenes, away from media attention, which ended with an agreement on the Sunni Sovereignty Alliance joining the framework, with the former retaining the position of parliamentary speaker. The framework had pledged acceptance.
 
The Coordination Framework could not believe their luck, and now it is working hard to move ahead and to make sure they replace the Sadrists. They have agreed with Halbousi to hold an extraordinary session in accordance with Article 58 of the constitution. They also started negotiations with the Kurds and Sunnis to ensure that the first session after parliament recess is a session to elect the president.

Kurdish and Sunni scene

The Sunnis are maintaining their status with the Sovereignty Alliance securing the position of the speaker of the parliament. The framework needs the alliance hence why it has reached an agreement with the latter that Halbousi holds his position in the legislature. The Shiite alliance also asked the parliament speaker to make up with Azm Alliance, led by Muthanna al-Samarrai, to divide ministerial portfolios and parliamentary committees. 
 
The Kurdish scene has also changed somewhat as some observers view the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) as the biggest loser from the withdrawal of the Sadrist Movement. The Kurdish party understands the gravity of the situation and for that reason, they made an important change in the negotiating team, as each of Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and the former minister of reconstruction Bangeen Rekani returned to lead the negotiation team, as they both have a solid relationship with the framework leadership. 

The fortune of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) increased after they stood with the framework as part of the blocking third and its members did not take part in the March 26 parliamentary session to elect a president therefore the Tripartite Alliance failed to complete the quorum and subsequently failed to vote-in a head of state. The framework will be rewarding the PUK with what it wants, and for that purpose, asked them to start negotiating with the KDP to reach a consensus on the position of the president. It is not yet clear the extent of the latter’s response and flexibility towards the PUK candidate, otherwise, each of them will go to the parliament session with their own candidate, as happened in 2018. 
 
Challenges of government formation
 
The Coordination Framework pins its hopes on holding the parliamentary session to elect a president after the legislative recess and then assigning the candidate of the largest bloc to form the government. 

Choosing a candidate for the position of prime minister may be the most difficult and complex issue due to the multiplicity of personalities nominated and competing for this position, most of whom represent the leadership of the framework.
 
The framework started deliberation on choosing a candidate and they will take their time, sources confirm that the intention is for none of the first-line leaders to be considered, and perhaps to elect someone who is acceptable to the Kurds, the Sunnis and more importantly, the international community. 

Furthermore, the challenges that await the next government will also become more complex as the Sadrist Movement may become a popular opposition movement, and this movement will not be easy to oppose. 

On this basis, the government will face difficult and thorny issues, including political, and economic problems, security issues, the continuing electricity, and food crisis, unemployment, poverty, lack of basic services, the spread of armed groups, the spread of drug trafficking and others, in addition to the rocky political conditions.
 
The mass resignation of the largest parliamentary bloc will certainly generate a new and unfamiliar reality that is difficult to predict the extent of its effects and repercussions. The reaction of the Shiite street in general regarding the return of the hawks of the Coordination Framework to dominate the political scene would be worrying, to say the least.
 
It can be said that the next stage in the political process is the most difficult of all the previous stages, and any candidate for the position of prime minister must lead a government capable of facing all this torrent of crises and be well aware of the size and gravity of the responsibility entrusted to him to find his way towards saving the country from what threatens its existence, present, and future.

Farhad Alaaldin is the chairman of the Iraq Advisory Council. He was the political adviser to former Iraqi President Fuad Masum, the former chief of staff to the KRG prime minister from 2009 to 2011, and the former senior adviser to the KRG prime minister from 2011 to 2012.

China Horn’s military expansion is reaching a dangerous tipping point

Opinion China’s military expansion is reaching a dangerous tipping point

A photo by the Xinhua News Agency shows a fighter jet preparing to land on a Chinese navy’s aircraft carrier on Dec. 31. (AP) 

Top military leaders from the United States and China met last weekend at a forum in Singapore, where they attempted to managemounting tensions between the superpowers. But throughout Asia, there’s growing fear that China’s drastic military expansion will soon result in Chinese regional military superiority, which could embolden Beijing to start a war over Taiwan.

That sense of urgency was palpable at last week’s Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conference of diplomats, officials and experts from across Asia, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Over three days of discussions, a common sentiment emerged: China is racing to become the dominant military power in Asia in the next few years — and if it succeeds, Beijing is likely to use force to attempt to subdue Taiwan’s democracy. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has dispelled any notion that revisionist dictatorships can be deterred by anything short of a superior opposing military force.

In recent years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that China plans to achieve military parity with the United States in Asia by 2027. As the Chinese military advances in both technology and territorial presence, leaders in the People’s Liberation Army are now openly threatening to attack Taiwan and promising to fight anyone who attempts to intervene. Beijing is speeding up its plans, and the United States risks falling behind.

In Singapore, I interviewed Adm. John C. Aquilino, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, who described what he’s seeing as “the largest military buildup in history” — with growing Chinese arsenals of both conventional and nuclear weapons. Aquilino said Beijing is attempting to establish regional hegemony and change the international order in Asia. China wants to be in a position to dictate the rules and use its military without fearing any constraints.

“I only see their efforts accelerating,” he said. “I see advanced capabilities that are being delivered more quickly than we would have expected. … Their goal is to have parity with the United States to ensure that they can’t be deterred.”

China is building the capability to use nuclear blackmail to deter a U.S. intervention if it invades Taiwan, following Russia’s model. China’s regional military presence is expanding, including a secret naval base in Cambodia and a secret military cooperation agreement with the Solomon Islands. China has developed new technologies, includinghypersonic missiles and antisatellite lasers, to keep the U.S. military at bay in a Taiwan scenario. And now, China no longer recognizes the Taiwan Strait as international waters.

China’s increased military confidence is reflected in its ever-more-belligerent rhetoric. After meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Singapore, Chinese Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe gave a speech in which he promised, “China will definitely realize its reunification” with Taiwan. If anyone tries to stand in the way, he went on, “we will not hesitate to fight. We will fight at all costs.”

In his speech, Austin attempted to reassure the region that the United States was committed to maintaining its leadership in Asia. But diplomats and experts in Singapore could not help noticing a gap between what the United States is saying and the resources Washington is committing to the effort.

New research investments the Pentagon is making today won’t bear fruit for several years. U.S. shipbuilding plans are woefully underfunded. The United States’ new trilateral alliance with Australia and the United Kingdom (known as AUKUS) won’t result in providing Australia with nuclear submarines until the late 2030s.

China is working on a shorter timeline. Aquilino wouldn’t volunteer an exact date for when China might surpass U.S. military power in Asia, but he called the 2020s “the decade of concern.” His predecessor at Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Philip S. Davidson, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that the threat of China invading Taiwan will become critical in “the next six years.” With 2027 being the final year of Xi’s expected (and unprecedented) third five-year term, it gives him a personal deadline for attempting reunification.

Indo-Pacific Command estimated in a May report to Congress that the region needs about $67 billion in new military investment between 2024 and 2027 to maintain the U.S. comparative military advantage over China. The budget is already behind schedule. In April, Indo-Pacific Command submitted a list of unfunded items that totals $1.5 billion for 2023 alone.

Maintaining the U.S. military advantage in the Indo-Pacific region will be neither easy nor cheap. Urgent tasks include dispersing more equipment and personnel to more places, hardening existing outposts such as Guam, increasing training and equipping of allies, and drastically increasing military support to Taiwan for its self-defense.

Meeting military escalation with escalation brings real risks that must be managed, not ignored. But the costs of war if China concludes it can take Taiwan easily would be exponentially higher. The United States doesn’t have the luxury of waiting until the next decade to counter China’s military expansion in Asia. As George Washington said in his first speech to Congress in 1790, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

Over $80 Billion Spent by Nuclear Horns on Nuclear Weapons Last Year: Daniel

Explosive Costs: Over $80 Billion Spent on Nuclear Weapons Last Year

You can add one more thing to all of the uncertainties and causes of concern in twenty-first-century life: countries are spending more on nuclear weapons. 

That’s according to the latest annual reportfrom the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which found that in 2021, nine states spent $82.4 billion on nuclear weapons, an inflation-adjusted jump from the year before. According to the report, the world spent more than $156,000 on nuclear weapons every minute.

The nine nuclear states studied were: the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea.

The report also analyzes companies involved in the purchase of such weapons, including Bechtel, Boeing, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, as well as several think tanks. 

“This report shows that nuclear weapons don’t work. Nuclear-armed states increased spending by $6.5 billion in 2021 and couldn’t prevent a nuclear-armed aggressor from starting a war in Europe,” Alicia Sanders-Zakre, policy and research coordinator at ICAN, said at the report’s announcement. “This is why we need multilateral disarmament more than ever. The first meeting of states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons … in June could not come at a better time.”

Nuclear weapons spending in 2021 was split between countries and the private sector. Companies based in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France were awarded $30 billion in new contracts in 2021, twice as much as the previous year. 

“The nuclear weapons industry received at least $32 billion for nuclear weapons-related work in 2021. A couple dozen companies, and their boards, have a vested interest in keeping nuclear weapons around forever,” Susi Snyder, financial sector coordinator at ICAN, said in the same release. 

“That’s why they spend millions on lobbyists, funding think tanks, and their board members sit in on elite foreign policy discussions so that the contracts will continue to 2070, and beyond. Fortunately, not everyone is buying what they’re selling, and investors are coming together to support the [Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons] at the upcoming meeting of States Parties, because they know an industry that profits from weapons of mass destruction is not a sustainable or secure investment.”

As the report only covers 2021, it does not discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which served to upend geopolitics.

“As companies throw money at lobbyists and researchers to assert the continued relevance and value of nuclear weapons, the record shows the inutility of weapons of mass destruction to address modern security challenges—and the legitimate fear that they can end civilisation as we know it,” the report argued. 

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.

US senators see little hope of restoring Obama nuclear deal

The UN nuclear watchdog said on May 30 that it estimated Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium had grown to more than 18 times the limit laid down in Tehran's 2015 deal with world powers.  AFP  /  Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran

US senators see little hope of restoring Iran nuclear deal

Following classified hearing with senior officials, senators say chance for breakthrough ‘much smaller today than they were six months ago’

High-ranking US senators expressed pessimism on Wednesday over the possibility of restoring the Iran nuclear deal and warned of the absence of any “Plan B” if no agreement is reached.

Following a classified hearing featuring Brett McGurk, the White House co-ordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, and Robert Malley, the special envoy for Iran, senators spoke on how the officials had indicated the window of opportunity to return to the deal signed in 2015 to curb Iran’s nuclear programme was closing quickly.

“The chances of a breakthrough are much smaller today than they were six months ago,” Democrat Chris Murphy told a reporter for Jewish Insider.

Russian contractors are seen working at the Bushehr nuclear reactor site in south of Iran, Tuesday, April 3, 2007.  Photographer: Yalda Moaiery/document IRAN/ Bloomberg News.

Russian contractors work at the Bushehr nuclear reactor site in 2007. The plant opened four years later. Bloomberg 

President Joe Biden’s administration has engaged in eight rounds of indirect talks with Iranian officials in the Austrian capital of Vienna to resurrect the deal — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — which the US withdrew from in 2018 under former president Donald Trump.

The deal is designed to cap Iran’s nuclear activities and prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon.

Those efforts unravelled in March after the US refused to remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of terrorist organisations.

But Republican Marco Rubio said that there is no Plan B if negotiations fail — “certainly not one [the Biden administration has] shown to us”.

And Republican Ted Cruz called the White House strategy an “absolute dumpster fire”. In comments to reporters and confirmed for The National, he accused the administration of having neither a Plan A nor a Plan B, 

Mr Cruz previously lauded Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal, calling it “a great accomplishment for the American people”.

Despite criticism, Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and host of the hearing, said the administration is leaning towards continuing the indirect talks instead of withdrawing and ramping up sanctions.

Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said this month that Iran is only a few weeks away from having a “significant quantity of enriched uranium”, which is defined as “the approximate amount of nuclear material for which the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded”.

Henry Rome, a senior analyst at the Eurasia group, predicted a prolonged stand-off between the US and Iran.

“In the coming months, the US and Iran will likely remain in an awkward form of limbo: neither side wants to close the door to a revival of the 2015 accord, but neither is willing to take the difficult political decisions that would make a deal possible,” Mr Rome told The National.

He added that Iran’s recent escalation by reducing “international access, expansion of advanced centrifuge deployment and refusal to discuss undeclared nuclear material all undermine the idea that Tehran is trying to preserve space for an agreement”.

The Iranian nuclear file is expected to top Mr Biden’s first visit to the Middle East next month where he will travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Biden will make it “clear that the United States is fully committed to supporting the territorial defence of our partners against threats from Iran or elsewhere”, a senior US official said earlier this week.

Updated: June 15, 2022, 2:25 PM

The Real Issue of Babylon the Great

Chinese Academic Song Zhongping: Russia, China, North Korea Would Only Use Nuclear Weapons In Self-Defense; The U.S. Would Use Them To Assert Its Global Hegemony, Even If Its Security Is Not Threatened

#9628 | 01:14
Source:

Chinese academic and military expert Song Zhongping said in a video that was posted on his Douyin social media account on May 11, 2022 that Russia, China, North Korea, and other countries would only use nuclear weapons in self-defense when threatened, but that the U.S. would use them to “assert its global hegemony,” even if its security is not threatened. Song Zhongping is a popular Chinese academic and influencer. His livestreams on Douyin routinely draw tens of thousands of viewers per night.

Song Zhongping: “The U.S. National Intelligence Director just point out, if Russia doesn’t feel threatened, they will not use nuclear weapons. Whether Russia uses nuclear weapons or not, depends on whether their national security is being threatened. This is different from the United States. 

“The United States uses nuclear weapons to assert its global hegemony. Even if the American continent in North America is not threatened, the U.S. will still use nuclear weapons to maintain its hegemony. Russia, China, and other countries who have nuclear weapons, including North Korea, on another hand, rely on nuclear weapons for self-protection. They are not threatening the security of other countries with nuclear weapons. That’s why there is a ‘No First Use’ promise.

“But Russia’s position is special. Russia believes, as long as you invade within our national boundaries, no matter if you’re using nuclear weapons or conventional weapons, as long as our national security is being threatened, sorry, nuclear weapons are one of the necessary means to counterattack.”

Always In the Background: the Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Always In the Background: Russia’s Nuclear Weapons

The ebbs and flows of the war in Ukraine still manage to command headlines these days, even if it’s without the intensity of previous months. But for all the attention to the battles and maneuvering on the ground, the issue that keeps US policy makers up at night shows up only infrequently: Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal (in terms of numbers of warheads), and no one in the West really knows whether its military would use it, how they’d deploy it, and under what circumstances they’d take that step.

As CIA Director Nicholas Burns made clear back in April, the issue is the use of so-called tactical—or “low-yield”—nuclear weapons. “None of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort” to them, he told reporters. Still, he added, “While we’ve seen some rhetorical posturing on the part of the Kremlin about moving to higher nuclear alert levels, so far we haven’t seen a lot of practical evidence of the kind of deployments or military dispositions that would reinforce that concern. But we watch for that very intently, it’s one of our most important responsibilities at CIA.”

Let’s be clear that “low-yield” is a matter of degrees. By current standards, at 15 kilotons the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a “low-yield” weapon. These weapons contain such awesome destructive power that even a minor nuclear explosion would be devastating.

So even if there’s no evidence at the moment that the Russians intend to deploy their tactical nukes, as a matter of policy the US and our allies need to remain constantly on the alert for any signs of their potential use. As Burns said early in May, Russian President Vladimir Putin is “in a frame of mind in which he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose.”So we have to be very clear that any use of these weapons is unacceptable and exceedingly dangerous. Russia has plenty of problems on its plate and it’s unclear whether it has the forces, the time, or the will to expand the current conflict—but the West must be very plain that it would push back hard on any escalation.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden pledged to declare that the US would use nuclear weapons only to deter a nuclear attack on us or our allies. His administration’s approach, revealed in March, declared, “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners”—but continues a longstanding policy that leaves open the option of using nuclear weapons to respond to non-nuclear threats, such as the use of biological or chemical weapons.

If you find thinking about these kinds of scenarios as unsettling as I do, then you might agree that—along with the impact of climate change—by far the largest threat to the stability of the world is the threat of nuclear weapons and their proliferation. Yet perhaps because the possibility of their use seems so remote in our day-to-day lives, you don’t see much about it—in the press or as an agenda topic in Washington. Policy debates don’t pay much attention to it, Congress doesn’t seem especially engaged with it—as Nicholas Burns suggested, it’s a behind-the-scenes preoccupation for people whose job it is to pay attention. I’d suggest that we all need to pay more attention- a lot more.

What the war in Ukraine makes clear is that anytime there’s a conflict involving a country that possesses nuclear weapons, the world edges closer to the possibility of their use. Although there is considerable discussion now about climate change, the public discussion of the threat of nuclear weapons is by comparison very limited. They are equally strong threats, and should be getting comparable amount of attention and discussion. The last time they were deployed in a conflict was almost 80 years ago, thanks to the hard work of countless people working for governments and non-governmental organizations around the globe. But we’ve also been lucky, and there’s never a guarantee that luck will hold. Vladimir Putin’s sabre-rattling is an opportunity and a spur to take a fresh look at what more needs to be done to ease the threat that nuclear weapons pose to world stability.

Lee Hamilton is a senior advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a distinguished scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a professor of practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years