Dangerously close to nuclear war—please pay attention!

By Tony Magliano, 2 July 2024
Image: Dan Meyers/Unsplash


The nine nuclear-armed states—United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel—“continued to modernize their nuclear arsenals 2023.”

This alarming statement from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s recently released “SIPRI Yearbook 2024,” should serve as a wake-up call that nuclear-armed powers have no intention to dismantle their nuclear arsenals, despite the U.N. “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” which 70 nations have ratified—while irresponsibly the nine nuclear-armed countries refuse to sign onto.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, we are at “a moment of historic danger.” They have set their sobering Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight—signaling how close we are to global destruction!

“SIPRI Yearbook 2024” estimates that globally there are 3,904 nuclear warheads deployed with missiles and aircraft. And that approximately 2,100 of these deployed warheads are kept at high operational alert on ballistic missiles.

Before his passing, Dr. Bruce Blair, a former military officer responsible for 50 Minuteman nuclear missiles in Montana, and co-founder of Global Zero —an international organization dedicated to eliminating all nuclear weapons—shared with me a highly dangerous little-known fact: Both the United States and Russia each have hundreds of nuclear warheads still aimed at each other.

And what’s even worse, these weapons of mass destruction are programmed at launch ready alert—otherwise known as hair-trigger alert—meaning they are fully armed and ready to be launched, thus able to reach their targets within just 30 minutes of a perceived nuclear attack. And US and Russian nuclear-armed submarines can deliver catastrophic blows in approximately 15 minutes.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “The warheads on just one US nuclear-armed submarine have seven times the destructive power of all the bombs dropped during World War II, including the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. And the United States usually has ten of those submarines at sea.” And the Russian fleet is comparably destructive.

With the war between Russia and Ukraine/NATO showing no end in sight, and with the first dozen of US F-16 jets soon to be shipped to Ukraine that can strike inside Russia, and with Ukrainian drones already hitting targets in Russia, this very deadly conventional war could easily devolve to nuclear war.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the world is at “A moment of historic danger: It is still 90 seconds to midnight” due to ominous events that could result in global catastrophe.

I strongly recommend that all adults and teenagers (not children) watch the still highly relevant, chilling 1983 movie “The Day After” which realistically portrays how an escalating set of events could quickly lead to an all-out thermonuclear war, with its horrific aftermath.

Everyone throughout the world needs to urge President Biden to act in the spirit and example of Jesus—to be a nonviolent peacemaker as his, and our, Catholic faith teaches.

And please contact your national government representatives, asking them to contact Presidents Biden and Putin with the urgent appeal to back away from the nuclear precipice, declaring an immediate ceasefire and to fully commit to a negotiated peace agreement.

And most of all, let us storm heaven with our personal and liturgical prayers!

In the days leading up to President Putin’s decision to order invading Russian troops into Ukraine, Pope Francis, in an apparent effort to jolt the conscience of the Russian leader, as well as the consciences of all of us, made this appeal: “Let us not forget: war is madness.” And he lamented, “Those who wage war forget humanity. How sad it is when persons and peoples think about waging war against each other.”

To all this madness the Holy Father boldly declared, “Put down your weapons! God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence”.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net.


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